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Birds

Australian Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeets are known for the amazingly colorful plumage. Feathers are green, blue, black, red and yellow. Color variations depend on the subspecies. Their legs are gray and their bill and iris are red. Juveniles are duller in color with brown/black bills and iris. Females are slightly smaller than males with a shorter beak.

Range/Habitat:

Rainbow lorikeets are native to Australia, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. It has been introduced to Hong Kong and Singapore. They can be found in a wide range of habitats including rainforest, woodlands and urban areas.

Size:

Length: 10 in. Weight: 3.5-5.5 oz.

  • These birds are known to mob individuals when trying to get food from them.
  • This species is also known as the coconut lorikeet.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. They have a very large range of habitat and while their numbers are decreasing it is not at a rapid pace. This is a heavily traded species, and their population is suspected to be declining due to overexploitation.

Conservation Action:

Listed under CITES Appendix II and under the Convention of Migratory Species Appendix II.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles go through four maturation stages. Each stage takes one year. The first stage occurs when they hatch, they have dark eyes, pink skin, and flesh colored talons. Within the first 18-22 days their skin turns bluish in color and their legs turn yellow. Within the first year, they will develop white feathers and their beaks and eyes will turn dark brown. In the second stage, their eyes turn grayish brown and their feathers become more mottled white. In the third stage, their eyes and beak turns yellow. During the fourth and final stage, their body feathers are mostly dark/brown while their head and tail remain white. Their adult plumage is achieved in their fifth year of life. Females are larger than males. They can live up to 28 years in the wild.

Habitat/Range:

These birds are native to North America and prefer areas near large bodies of water. They are very skittish and will avoid areas where humans are present.

Size:

Length: 31-37in. Wingspan: 70-90in. Weight: 9.5lbs.

  • Bald Eagles can go several days without eating. They will even store food in their crop for later digestion.
  • They have a 6 foot wing span and are mostly scavengers.

Least Concern. Negatively impacted by hunting, habitat destruction, and insecticides such as DDT, Bald Eagles were an endangered species in the 1940s, however thanks to the Bald Eagle Protection Act which made it illegal to kill or even own a feather from an eagle as well as the ban of certain insecticides these birds have made a comeback. Huge conservation success story.

Conservation Action:

Protected under the Migratory Bird Act. Some areas have habitat conservation plans in action.

Bar-Headed Goose

Bar-headed geese have grey bodies with wings tipped in black. Their legs and bill are yellow to orange and the bill has a black tip. Their name comes from their distinctive black and white neck that has two black u-shaped marks on the back of the head. Juveniles are duller in color and lack the bars on the back of the head. Males are usually larger than females.

Range/Habitat:

Bar-headed geese breed mainly in Mongolia, western China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but also in northern India. They winter in Tibet, northern India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar. They prefer mountain grasslands and crop fields at high elevations. They utilize freshwater streams, marshes and lakes. This species has been introduced to Canada and Europe.

Size:

Body length: 2.25-2.5 feet. Wingspan: 4.5-5 feet. Weight: 4.5-6.5lbs.

  • When migrating, these geese have been recoded to fly as high as 9,000m when cross the Himalaya Mountains.
  • Bar-headed geese have two warning calls, one for when a bird of prey is near, and the other for when a predator on land is near.
  • Bar-headed geese seem to have a high tolerance to plants that would be poisonous to other animals, including lily-of-the-valley.
  • They can survive at high altitudes because they have a higher density of capillaries that are spaced closer together this allows them to deliver more oxygen to their muscles, in particular their flight muscles. In addition to their capillaries they also have hemoglobin in their blood that is more efficient at taking in oxygen.

IUCN lists them as a species of least concern. However, at one time it was listed as near threatened. Threats this species have faced and still faces are: hunting, egg collection, death due to power-lines and other infrastructure, disease such as Avian Flu and habitat destruction. These geese also feed on local crops around their roosting areas which causes tension with farmers.

Conservation Action:

In Kyrgyzstan has hand-raised and released young bar-headed geese to increase their population.

Black Swan

These swans have a black plumage with some white wing feathers. Their irises are pinkish in color and their bills are red lined with white. The feathers have a somewhat “crinkled” appearance. The legs and feet are also black in color. Juveniles are greyish brown with light tipped feathers and a lighter bill. Males are often larger than females.

Range/Habitat: Black swans are native to southern Australia and southeast Tasmania. They inhabit lakes, rivers, swamplands of both fresh and salt water, flooded fields and occasionally dry pastures. They have been introduced to New Zealand, North America, Singapore and Europe.

Size: Body length: 3.5-4.5 feet, Wingspan: 5.25-6.5 feet. Weight: 8-19lbs.

  • The black swan has the longest neck of any swan species.
  • A male swan is called a “cob” and a female is called a “pen.”
  • Black swans sometimes gather in flocks of several hundred to over 1000 individuals! On land a large group is known as a “bank” and when flying are known as a “wedge.”

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. Currently there seem to be no major threats to black swan populations. In fact, in some areas, their populations are deliberately controlled through egg collecting and short hunting seasons.

Conservation Action:

It is protected in Australia under the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act.

Black-Naped Fruit Dove

This species is mostly green with a yellow and red underside of tail, with the male having a pale gray head and a black nape and the female being mostly green.

Range/Habitat:

Black-naped fruit doves are found in Indonesia, Java, the Philippines, the Moluccas and Borneo. They inhabit forest edges, suburbs, lowlands and hilly forests.

Behavior:

Black-naped fruit doves form monogamous pairs but can be found in flocks when feeding.

Also known as the black-headed fruit dove. They build platform nests but never too far from the ground.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern.

Conservation Action:

Conservation sites are being identified.

Canada Goose

Canada geese have a black head, neck and beak and a white chin strap. Their back are a brownish gray with a cream or white underbelly and rump. The feathers on their bodies have pale edges giving them a bar-like appearance. Some subspecies have a white ring around the neck and varying cheek marks. Their tails and legs are also black. Juveniles are olive-brown above and yellowish below with a darker head. Males are often larger than females.

Habitat/Range:

Canada geese are found throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico. During the winter months, they inhabit the southern portion of North America. These geese have been introduced to Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea and Russia. They prefer open and grassy habitat near bodies of water. These birds can often be seen in urban, suburban and agricultural fields as well.

Size:

Body length: 2.5-3.5 feet, Wingspan: 4-6 feet. Weight: 6.5-20lbs.

  • Migration is taught to young geese by their parents. If their parents do not migrate, the juveniles will become non-migratory birds.
  • Due to their energy efficient v-formation, geese may fly up to 2,400km per day.
  • If necessary, Canada geese may go for up to 30 days without food.

IUCN lists them as a species of least concern. Canada geese populations are on the rise and have become a nuisance in some areas. Their success is thought to be due to changes in agricultural practice, weather changes, and increased urban areas leading to an increased range and more food to graze on. Large numbers of geese are considered pests since their droppings can foul parks and golf courses, they can pollute waterways with their droppings, case damage to crops and riverbanks, and pose serious threats to aircrafts on airfields. However, some subspecies are faced with hunting, poisoning, pollution and habitat loss to due to oil and gas exploitation, and habitat loss to due urbanization.

Conservation Action:

Canada geese are listed as a migratory game bird by the Migratory Bird Act in the US and the Migratory Birds Convention Act in Canada. Methods to control their populations include: hunting, destroying nests and eggs, scaring devices and modifying urban habitats to make them less appealing.

Green Aracari

Green aracaris get their name from the green feathers that cover their backs. Males have black heads while females have reddish-brown. Their beaks are large and vibrantly colored.

Range/Habitat:

Green aracaris are found in northern South America. They live in tropical rain forests.

Diet:

These birds eat a variety of fruits, figs, palm, and the occasional insect.

They are the smallest of the toucans.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. They may be threatened by habitat loss, and are expected to decline by 25% within the next century. They are excellent seed dispersers.

ENDANGERED

Grey Crowned Crane

The crane has grey plumage which contrasts against its black and white wings. They have a yellow crest of feathers on top of its head and a red patch that hangs from the neck. The yellow feathers on their head or crown offer camouflage in the tall grasses. Males are larger than females. Juveniles have gray plumage and a dark crest. They live up to 22 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.

Habitat/Range:

They can be found in Eastern and Southern Africa and live in wetlands and open grasslands.

Size:

Height: 3 feet. Weight: 7-9lbs.

  • The grey crowned crane is the national symbol of Uganda.
  • They have been known to forage on grain and other crops from agricultural lands.

Endangered. They are threatened by loss or degradation of suitable wetlands due to damming, drainage, and deforestation as well as being preyed upon by domestic dogs. Live birds and eggs are also taken from the wild. They are the National bird of Uganda. International trade of this animal is very closely monitored.

Conservation Actions:

Captive breeding populations and wetland conservation projects have been established in Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Grey Peacock Pheasant


Peacock-pheasants are named for the peacock-like eyespots on their feathers. This species is grey in color with iridescent eyespots dotting its body. Males are larger with more defined eyespots.

Range/Habitat:

The grey peacock-pheasant is native to southeastern Asia. It inhabits forests with lots of undergrowth to hide in.

Size: Length:

19 – 30 in. Weight: 1 – 2 lbs.

 

 

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. They are suspected to be declining due to habitat loss, hunting, and sold for gamebirds and for feathers.

Conservation Action:

Grey peacock-pheasants are protected by the Indian Wildlife Protection Act as well as being placed on CITES Appendix II.

THREATENED

Greylag Goose

(Sebastopol and Toulouse)

Sebastopol geese have long, soft, curled feathers. They are usually white but can also come in buff and gray. They have blue eyes and orange bills and feet. Juveniles are gray in color. The feathers on the head and neck are normal, while the breast and underbelly are long and curling.

Toulouse geese come in two types: production and dewlap. They have large heads and stout bills. They have a dewlap that extends from under the neck giving them their name. Their body nearly touches the ground. They come in grey and buff coloring. Production Toulouse have no true dewlap.

  • Goose fat was the primary source for cooking fats and lubricants.
  • Toulouse geese are mainly raised for their meat.
  • Sebastopol geese are named after a Russian city where they were imported to the US from.
  • The Sebastopol geese's curled feathers prevent flight.

Sebastopol geese are threatened according to the Livestock Conservancy.

The Livestock Conservancy lists Toulouse geese as a species that must be monitored.

Hadada Ibis

Like all ibises, the hadada has a thin, downward curved bill. It is brown to gray in color with iridescent patches of color on its wings. It has a white stripe on the side of its head and a red stripe on its upper bill.

Range/Habitat:

The hadada ibis can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They are found in a variety of wetland habitats including wooded streams, moist grasslands, irrigated fields, swamps, coastal beaches, flooded grasslands and marshes.

Size:

Length: 2-2.5 ft. Wingspan: 3 ft.

The name “hadada” apparently comes from the call of this bird and what it sounds like it is saying.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. The main threat they face is extended drought periods. They are hunted and traded for traditional medicines in Nigeria.

Hamerkop

Hamerkops are brown in color with a uniquely shaped head. As the name states, it resembles a hammer. They have a black beak and black legs.

Range/Habitat:

Hamerkops can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They can live in a wide range of habitats, from semi-desert to forest, as long as there is water. It is most commonly seen in well-watered savanna or woodlands.

Size:

Length: 22 in. Weight: 14.5 – 15.1 oz.

  • Hamerkop nests are enormous! They can contain up to 10,000 items and weight 275lbs!!! They will make several nests per year even though they only use one. Many other animals will utilize unused nests such as barn owls, geese and gennets.
  • There are several legends surrounding these birds that tell of their magical powers.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. It is threatened by poor water quality in its wetland habitats due to pesticides.

Helmeted Guineafowl


These birds are round and plump, resembling chickens. They can come in a variety of colors, but are commonly seen with grey feathers covering their bodies and speckled with white spots. Their heads are almost naked and have red wattles and a large bony “helmet” on the top of their heads which give them their name. Males may be larger with larger wattles.

Habitat/Range:

Helmeted guinea fowl are native to most of sub-Saharan Africa. They can now be found all over the world. The domestic guinea fowl many own were brought to America by early settlers. Their preferred habitat is grasslands and scrubland.

Size:

Length: 16-28in. Weight: 1.5-3.5lbs.

  • Guinea fowl are known to eat ticks as well as many other insects and are therefore extremely helpful with pest reduction. A study was done by scientists from Vassar College and the Institute of Ecosystem Studies that concluded that guinea fowl can significantly reduce the numbers of adult ticks in a yard.
  • Baby guinea fowl are called “keets.”
  • It is believed that guinea fowl have been domesticated for around 4,000 years.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern.

ENDANGERED

Madagascar Teal

The two sexes are very similar in appearance and the entire plumage is a uniform light reddish-brown. The throat and chin are buff colored and the bill is pinkish-grey. The wing has a black patch known as the speculum or mirror, which is bordered with white.

Range/Habitat:

The Madagascar teal lives on the west coast and far northeast of Madagascar. They inhabit wetlands, estuaries and flooded mangrove forests.

Size:

1.3-1.5 feet

IUCN lists as an endangered species. Habitat loss is the major threat facing these birds. Wetlands are turned into rice fields and mangrove forests are cut down for timber and prawn pond construction.

Conservation Actions:

A captive breeding program, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, initiated in 1993 has been successful and sheds light on the biology and behavior of these ducks.

VULNERABLE

Marbled Teal Duck

The marbled teal duck is brown in color speckled with cream giving it a marbled appearance. It has a dark eye patch and stripe on the head that extends to a slight crest. It has a long neck and wings.

Range/Habitat:

There are three populations of marbled teal ducks scattered throughout the Mediterranean, Northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. They prefer brackish wetlands but can also be found in freshwater and man-made wetlands.

Size:

Length: 15.5-16.5 in.

This duck is more closely related to diving ducks than to other teals.

IUCN lists as a vulnerable species. They face several threats including habitat loss, pollution, lead poisoning and hunting/egg collecting.

Conservation Actions:

The Marbled Tea Duck is legally protected in Bulgaria, Israel, Morocco, Spain, Russia, Tunisia, and Turkey. Awareness-raising efforts and the designation of several breeding areas as protected have also helped to conserve this species.

NEAR THREATENED

Nicobar Pigeon

The Nicobar pigeon has dark green, iridescent feathers and a mantle of pointed, greenish-blue feathers which have coppery overtones. It also has red legs and a short white tail. The females are smaller and have a white iris while the males and juveniles have a brown iris.

Range/Habitat:

It is a small island specialist, found mainly in South East Asia and the Pacific, from the Indian Nicobar Islands eastward to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. They breed in colonies on small, wooded, offshore islands and forage for food in the rainforests on the islands or nearby mainland.

Size:

Length: 15.5-16in. Weight: 1.35lbs

This bird is the closest living relative to the dodo.

IUCN lists them as near threatened. Their exact population size is unknown but their numbers have been decreasing due to deforestation, invasive predators such as cats and rats, hunting for food, and the pet trade.

Conservation Actions:

Proposed measures include protections for breeding islands and the eradication of non-native predators on those islands. International trade of this species is illegal. Education the people who live around this species has been discussed as a way to reduce trapping for food and the pet trade.

Radjah Shelduck

This medium sized duck has a white head, neck and belly with a dark back and chest band. In flight, visibly white shoulder patches may be seen as well as green and russet patches on the wings. It has a light colored bill, feet and eyes.

Range/Habitat:

The radjah shelduck is native to Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea but has been introduced to Singapore. It prefers brackish water but can also be found in freshwater (in Australia at least).

Size:

Length: 16-24in. Weight: 2.2lbs.

Also known as the Burdekin Duck.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern, but their population trend is decreasing likely due to hunting and habitat loss.

Red Junglefowl

Males have long, gold to red head and neck feathers and a metallic green tail with a white tuft at the base. The underparts are black while the upperparts are a combination of blue-green, orange, red and brown. The male also has a red face, neck and comb with red or white ear patches. The hens are brown-gold
with pale red faces and throats. The males go through an eclipse molt, where they molt their feathers after summer and become a darker color.

Habitat/Range:

Jungle fowl are native to southern and southeast Asia. They inhabit tropical and subtropical areas such as mangroves, scrubland, plantations, and forest edges.

Behavior:

These birds live in small flocks with a distinct “pecking order” for both males and females.

These birds are the ancestor of all domestic poultry.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. Since they can live in a wide variety of habitats, they are not affected by habitat destruction as much as other birds. Their biggest threat is genetic contamination by domestic and feral poultry. Pure wild jungle fowl are being bred out and are on the verge of extinction.

Conservation Actions:

In Himachal Pradesh, India, a village where jungle fowl have never roamed freely due to predators such as leopards purebred jungle fowl still exists. Scientists are highly interested in this area and many studies occur here.

Roseate Spoonbill

As its name implies, the roseate spoonbill has light to dark pink wings and tail. Their legs and irises are red. The upper back and neck are white but yellow to green tints may be seen. Their most distinctive feature is their large, spoon shaped bill.

Range/Habitat:

Roseate spoonbills can be found from southern Georgia south through the Caribbean and South America to Argentina. They inhabit wetland areas marshes, mangrove swamps and mud flats. These habitats may be marine, brackish or freshwater.

Size:

Weight: 2.3 lbs.

Their bill is 32” long.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. Previously, they were hunted for their feathers and meat during the 1800s, they also suffered disturbances due to shared habitat with egrets which are greatly hunted. Now their main threat is habitat loss due to coastal dwellings. Pollution and climate change also have an effect on their numbers.

Conservation Action:

It is protected under the Migratory Bird Act.

Ruddy Shelduck

Ruddy shelducks have a rusty orange plumage with the head being a little lighter than the rest of the body. The bill, feet, rump, tail, primary and secondary feathers are black. Males also have a black band around the neck that is absent or broken in breeding birds. These ducks also have white or buff colored coverts on their wings and a whitish face that is more prominent in females. Females are often smaller than males.

Range/Habitat:

Ruddy shelducks breeds in south-eastern Europe, east through southern and central Asia to Mongolia and western China, with separate populations in northwest Africa and Ethiopia. They will migrate south for winter flying down into south and southeastern Asia as well as eastern Africa. These birds can be found in a variety of habitats including freshwater/salty/brackish lakes, streams, slow-moving rivers, freshwater pools, flooded grasslands and marshes.

Size:

Body length: 2 feet. Weight: 2-3.5lbs.

In many Buddhist countries, the ruddy shelduck is considered a sacred bird.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. In some areas of its range, it is threatened by hunting, pollution, and habitat loss. Wetlands in many areas are being drained for agriculture, industrial development, salt extraction and sand mining. However, in Western Europe, the shelduck is considered an invasive species. Captive birds have gotten into the wild and are threatening native waterfowl due to their aggressive territoriality and interbreeding.

Conservation Actions:

The ruddy shelduck is protected under Appendix II of the Convention of Migratory Species and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement,

Scarlet Ibis

As their name implies, these birds are bright red to pink in color. They have a long neck and long legs. Their bills are think and curved downward. Ibis feet are slightly webbed. Juveniles are grayish-brown with white bellies. Males are heavier with longer bills.

Range/Habitat:

Scarlet ibises are found in northern South America, from Venezuela to Eastern Brazil. They inhabit wetland areas such as mud flats and shallow bays.

Size:

Weight: 1.35lbs. Length: 22 – 30in. Wingspan: 20.5 – 22in.

Colonies may have up to 2000 nests.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. Problems that they are faced with include egg harvesting, the pet trade and habitat loss particularly nest grounds and foraging grounds.

Conservation Action:

They are protected by the US Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as by many laws which serve to protect their habitats and guard them from hunting, however, they are poorly enforced.

VULNERABLE

Scheepmaker's Crowned Pigeon

The most prominent feature of these pigeons is the blue-gray lacy feathers adorning their heads. The rest of the body is mainly blue-gray with a maroon breast and belly. It has a black “mask,” red eyes and purplish legs and feet.

Range/Habitat:

Scheepmaker's crowned pigeons are native to southern New Guinea. They inhabit dry and flooded lowland forests.

Size:

Length: Male - 26 ¾ - 28 ¾ in. Female – 26 – 27.5 in. Weight: 5 lbs.

Also known as Southern Crowned Pigeon.

IUCN lists as a vulnerable species. This species faces many threats. The largest may be from hunting and trapping. Their meat and feathers are sold and both young and adult birds are sold for the pet trade. It also is faced with habitat loss and has gone extinct in several areas it used to inhabit.

Conservation Actions:

The Scheepmaker's Crowned Pigeon is protected by law in Papua New Guinea.

VULNERABLE

Stanley Crane

(Blue Crane)

This crane is blue in color but can appear gray at a distance. They are also quite small but has a large head, thick neck, and very long wings which trail behind the bird and many confuse their wings for their tail feathers because of this. They produce loud honking calls.

Habitat/Range:

They mostly live in southern or South Africa and breed in dry grasslands at high elevations.

Size:

Length: 3 feet.

The Blue Crane is the national bird of South Africa.

Vulnerable. They are at risk due to purposeful and accidental poisoning in areas where they and other animals are seen as pests due to farming. The most significant threats are death due to power-lines, wetlands drying out, and the removal of grasslands and planting of trees for plantations.

Conservation Actions:

Some habitat protection has been established, and more ecologically sensitive chemicals are being used by agricultural workers to reduce the risk of poisoning cranes. A Crane Working Group has been organized in Namibia to facilitate education and conservation.

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