Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The AMERICAN BALD EAGLE - Facts Everyone Should Know

English: American Bald Eagle taken at the Hoog...
American Bald Eagle taken at the Hoogle Zoo in UT
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Many people don't know that the bald eagle has been the symbol of the United States and the nation's national bird since 1782. Sea Eagles, so common in 18th century Europe, were a common sight to America's early settlers, and it is from mistaking the two birds that the bald eagle got its name. There were no bald eagles in Europe, as the bald eagle is found only in North America. The sea eagle name lingers, and the scientific name, Haliaetus leucocephalus, actually means "sea eagle with a white head" in Greek and Latin.

Of the 'sea eagle' species, the bald eagle is the only one that is native to North America. The bald eagle is immediately obvious by its smooth, white head and white tail, contrasted by the deep brown feathers of its body. Coins, flags, buildings, and seals in the United States have used the image of the bald eagle to symbolize the country.

The bald eagle is a fierce bird of prey, along with other raptors, such as hawks, vultures, owls, and falcons. The bald eagle lives on a diet of live prey, such as waterfowl and fish, as well as rodents, snakes, rabbits, and birds, but they will eat carrion when there is no live prey to be eaten.

Bald eagles are enormous and intimidating birds, with adults growing to 32 inches in length, with wingspans to 7 ½ feet, and weighing up to 16 pounds.

The largest eagles live in Alaska, and the smaller eagles can be found in Florida. Wherever the bald eagle lives, the animals in the region scatter when the bird begins to land.

Each hunting pair of bald eagles requires an area of 2 to 15 square miles in which to hunt. Each pair of bald eagles shares a nest, furiously guarding it against predators. The bald eagle sometimes chases animals that have made a catch of their own, such as the East Central Florida bald eagles that chase Ospreys along the Indian River Lagoon. The eagle will then get to eat the Osprey's catch, as the Osprey drops its squirming prey to escape the eagle.

Although they are birds of prey, the bald eagle shows a tremendous instinct for family loyalty. The bald eagle stays with its mate for life, though few other birds follow this behavior. Though most birds live a much shorter time, the bald eagle can live for as many as 25 years. They live across North America, from the north, including Canada and Alaska, across the middle expanses of the U.S., and south into the northern part of Mexico.

The bald eagle travels frequently, flying to northern climates to escape hot summers, the birds usually return close to the place where they were hatched in order to begin families of their own. Breeding bald eagles lay one to three eggs in the spring, which hatch about 35 days later. After three months in the nest, the baby bald eagles begin to fly, and a month later fly away from their mother for good. The dangers of hunger, disease, harsh weather and toxic chemicals can all make life hard for baby eagles, but almost 70% manage to adapt and survive for at least a year.

Did you know that to save the species in 1940 the United States Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act? This law made it illegal for people to disturb or bother the birds. This also included taking bald eagles for reasons such as selling, trading, or transporting them and also included their eggs and nests. Taking an eagle included shooting at the birds, wounding them, trapping, capturing, disturbing them, or killing them in any manner.

Large numbers of bald eagles died because of DTT, the overuse of pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. The bald eagle was given a chance to be saved by the many reintroduction programs and new laws that were enacted to help them. It seemed nearly impossible to save the species from extinction at the time.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 allowed species that were small in numbers to be classified as threatened, and species with very low populations to be classified as endangered. In the early 1990s, the rapidly increasing numbers of bald eagles made it possible for the species to be taken off the endangered species lists in most states.



The bald eagle has dramatically increased in numbers between 1963 and 1994, rising from about 500 pairs to almost 5,000 pairs and leading Congress to reclassify its status as threatened. With the increasing population of the bald eagle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon take the bird off the endangered species list.

To observe the bald eagle is a pleasurable experience. The long strides of the bald eagle as it launches leads into the soaring, slow-motion movement of the bird in flight. The determined eagle keeps to its determined path, its prize kept in sight. The skies of North America are increasingly filled with the majestic bald eagle. Everyone should make an effort to see this animal.



Saturday, April 20, 2019

A Favorite BACKYARD BIRD - The CHICKADEE

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Chickadee is a familiar and welcome visitor to most backyards in the United States. Varieties of this bird are found across the entire US. A member of the titmouse family, there are five variations in the US. Mexican, Chestnut Backed, and Mountain Chickadees reside in the western states. The Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees cover most of the US from New Jersey to Kansas and south from Texas to Florida. I mention these two together because they are so similar, even at close range, they are hard to distinguish. It would appear they have a hard time themselves as Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees have been known to breed with each other in areas where they overlap.

This active friendly bird will visit almost any backyard birding area and become a year-round resident. After becoming regulars at your feeders during spring and summer, most will winter in the same area they had their summer nests, provided the weather doesn't turn too harsh. Even then, they will migrate only a short distance and return when it warms. For year-round backyard birding, the chickadee is hard to beat. These birds have a cheerful call and song and provide hours of entertainment checking the trees and shrubs for insects.

Insects are the food of choice for the Chickadee. They eat live insects, eggs, and larvae while hopping or hanging, even upside down, in trees and shrubs. They sometimes make quick short flights and catch insects on the fly. They also enjoy berries, fleshy fruits, suet, acorns, and seeds. This friendly bird is a regular at our tube and platform bird feeders. We see them taking one sunflower seed at a time from our bird feeder and flying a short distance to open it. They enjoy our blueberry bushes, pine cones, and muscadines as well.

Chickadees can be trained to eat from your hand. It will take patience and consistent offerings, but these birds will slowly begin to come to you. This occurs more often in colder weather when the food supply is more scarce. This chickadee enjoys a variety of foods and can be enticed with various offerings until you find the one which works for you. Try various nuts, seeds, or fruits at about the same time each day. The inquisitive chickadee will get closer and closer until you find them eating from your hand!



Chickadees nest naturally in hollow trees or old woodpecker sites. They can be attracted to man-made birdhouses. Obtain a birdhouse made for them and place it in a pine, elm, aspen or birch tree. We have them nesting in houses attached to our wood fence. Just be sure you have a sturdy house, rough sawn for the bird to cling to and protect them with predator guards at the entrance. A chickadee house should come with tree shavings. While not used for the nest, it looks at this as proof this is a proper nesting site.

This bird is easily attracted and a favorite of many backyard bird watchers. Offering several varieties of food will keep these visitors happy. Provide sheltering shrubbery, water, and natural or man-made birdhouse nesting sites and you will have an entertaining songbird dancing, singing, and performing upside down acrobatics for years to come. If you are fortunate enough, the Chickadee will reward you with eating from your hand.




Friday, April 19, 2019

Peach Faced LOVE BIRDS

English: A trio of peach-faced lovebirds. The ...
A trio of peach-faced lovebirds. The left one has a standard "peach-face" crest, the middle one is a peach-face and a fischeri hybrid (as indicated by the two-colored beak and smaller body size) and the right one is a color mutation aptly named as "orange-faced" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My Peach Faced lovebirds are pint-sized bundles of joy. They have the full personality of parrots while being easy to house because of their size. My birds are little clowns, playing for hours at a time. They love to hang from toys, spin them around, and dance on your shoulder. I have had to watch my buttons! They love to pull them off my clothes! Such loving little birds: they love to snuggle and preen.

Many people believe lovebirds must be kept in pairs. This is simply not true. A single lovebird makes a better pet because it bonds to you rather than to another lovebird. While it is easy to keep a pair of lovebirds tame if you plan on spending lots of time with your bird you can keep it alone. However, if you work long hours and don't think you'll have a lot of time for your love bird, I recommend you get him/her a companion. This will keep your lovebirds happy and prevent boredom. It is important to realize that while lovebirds are a small parrot, they have the intelligence and abilities of some of the largest parrots.

They never stop amazing me with their ability to escape their own cages. I have to put copper wire on the cage doors to keep them in, and sometimes they figure out how to untwist the wire and open the door!

Lovebirds will sometimes try to become the little bosses of the household. I recommend using the same type of gentle dominance training that is used for larger parrots.

Are you looking for a bird that you can teach to talk? Lovebirds can learn to mimic sounds and speech on occasion. However, I don't recommend that you buy any species of bird only because of the expectation that it will speak; even the famous African Greys sometimes don't learn to speak. So, if that is your only reason for buying a bird, I'd seriously urge you to reconsider as the bird could end up abandoned because of your own disappointment.

In my opinion, love birds and parrots both make great pets even if they never utter a word. We have both in our home. The lovebirds chatter away all day, never making a sound that anyone can understand, except as being simply 'noisy chatter.' However, our Double Yellow Head parrot makes up for it; his vocabulary is very long, extensive and he is constantly talking.

If you decide to breed love birds just remember they are prolific breeders. You may soon, as we did, find our home overrun with lovebirds! And, as a word of caution, "do not" put bark chips in the nest of the baby birds. Though the odor is pleasant to humans and is good for older birds it is too strong for baby lovebirds. I must admit I learned the hard way and had casualties on my hands! Paper is the best thing to put in the nest along with some alfalfa. Do not get powdered alfalfa, rather dried alfalfa blades. If you decide to use paper, do cut the paper (newspaper is best) in long strips and put it beside the nest. Mama will take it into the nest. And, remember if mama snaps at you she is only protecting her nest!

My favorite lovebird is Lucky, so named as it was our first clutch and she was the only one, of six, that survived when I put the bark chips in the nest.



We do not have an aviary breeder, rather, our lovebirds are paired off in separate cages. The best way to tame babies quickly is to remove the babies from the next when they are about two weeks old and hand feeds them. This way, the birds get the best of both worlds: the immunity conferred from their parents and the tameness that comes from being handled by humans.

Our lovebirds are abundance weaned so that they are happy, well-adjusted birds. We feed them pellets, a good seed mix, alfalfa, wheat grass, quinoa, sprouted beans, and other veggies and fruits. And, oh yes! Lovebirds love to not only eat grapes but to toss them around also. In short, lovebirds love playing. They keep us entertained for hours. If you decide to get a lovebird for a pet, you will have made an excellent choice!



Monday, April 1, 2019

Fact Sheet: COLLARED ARACARI - Pteroglossus torquatus

(Original title: Rainforest Birds - Collard Aracari)

Collared Aracari
Photo  by mTuttle 
Bird Name:
Collared Aracari

Latin Name:
Pteroglossus torquatus

Status:
Least Concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Ramphastidae
Genus: Pteroglossus
Species: P. torquatus

General Information:
The Collared Aracari is a colorful bird that resides year-round in the jungles of Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. It is a toucan and has a distinctive long bill that is almost a quarter the size of the bird itself. It is a very social creature and usually found in flocks of 6 - 15 birds.

Physical Description:
An adult bird is around 16 inches in length, with its bill accounting for about 4 inches, and weighs approximately 230 g. Male and female are similar in appearance, each with a black head and a colorful chest of red, green, and yellow feathers. Juveniles are much duller in color compared to their adult counterparts, with paler underparts and a less distinct bill pattern.

Diet:
Although the Collard Aracari is primarily an arboreal fruit-eater, it will also feed on bird eggs and small prey like insects, lizards, and fledgling birds.


Habitat:
This near-passerine bird occurs from southern Mexico to Panama, but also extends into Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. The bird makes its home in the tropical rainforests of southern Mexico and throughout Central America. It is also a common resident in lowland forests and will often nest in natural cavities or old woodpecker nests.

Reproduction:
A female usually lays 3 - 4 eggs per clutch in an unlined nest. Both male and female incubate the eggs for a period of about 16 days. The young will leave the nest at 40 - 42 days.



Sunday, March 31, 2019

COCKATOOS Need Love Too!

Citron-crested Cockatoo. Photograph of upper b...
Citron-crested Cockatoo. Photograph of upper body and crest.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
It is true...Cockatoos are gorgeous and popular, but you still need to give them love too...Many are under the endangered species list, and all others are considered vulnerable.

They have beautiful plumage in a rainbow of varieties, and an amazing crest on top of their head, which they can control to fan out or to lay back flat! They have big personalities and are very intelligent.

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Cacatuidae
Subfamilies: Microglossinae, Calyptorhynchinae, Cacatuinae


There are 21 species that belong to the Cacatuidae family. Of these 21, only 11 exist in Australia in the wild, 7 exist in Indonesia, New Guinea and other South Pacific Islands, and 3 exist in both New Guinea and Australia.


Cockatoos are under both the endangered and vulnerable species list, protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This means that it is illegal to import and export these birds, which are caught in the wild.

Endangered Cockatoo Species:


* Goffin's cockatoo, Cacatua goffini

* Red-vented Cockatoo, Cacatua haematuropygia
* Moluccan Cockatoo, Cacatua moluccensis
* Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea
- includes the subspecies, Citron-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata
* Palm Cockatoo, Probosciger aterrimus

If you are interested in adopting a cockatoo for a pet, make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer that has not partaken in the illegal trade of wild cockatoos.

My Story:
When I moved to Perth, Western Australia, about 13 yrs ago, the 1st day I woke up, I went for a jog. I was flabbergasted at the teeming wildlife just in my neighborhood. I made a few turns and ended up jogging through a park, where I found the most amazing site.

The trees were all pink! (Photo: This is what I saw! I wish I could find my photos to show you!) What I mean is, that they were absolutely full of pink cockatoos! Absolutely one of the most amazing things ever! Literally, there was no branch left open. What a treat to get up in the morning for your dull jog, and be graced with this beauty on a regular basis. So special!

It was so normal for the locals, they didn't really see what the big deal was, and certainly did not want to go jogging with me...LOL Coming from Canada, this was a real eye-opening experience.

How beautiful, I thought. How terrible that they are all either endangered or vulnerable now, 13 yrs later.





* Tip: If you have any respiratory diseases, problems or sensitivities, a bird for a pet is not a great idea, as it can irritate and aggravate your respiratory problems further. (When we owned 2 budgies, when I was young, they lived to be about 10 yrs old. My mother seemed to have chronic bronchitis throughout the year, and it would be aggravated to pneumonia come winter time. When our Misty and Sky passed away, within 2 wks of each other, Misty's heart was broken, my mother's respiratory problems cleared up spontaneously. She has never had these problems since. She had a serious sensitivity to the birds plumage and dust that resulted from them living in the house. On the other hand, me, my sister and my father did not have such a sensitivity to our budgies.)

If you are blessed enough to have a cockatoo as a pet, it is important to make sure they are being fed properly so they will live to be your companion for many years to come.

I love all of these beautiful species of Cockatoo. How gorgeous! How amazing would it be to have these beautiful birds all over the place in Canada?


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