birding

Herons, egrets and bitterns as a group are varied and have a worldwide distribution, but are common in the tropics. These wading birds are often associated with both fresh and coastal water where they feed at the edge of lakes, rivers, and the sea on aquatic prey including fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Some species may specialise...

Owls are characterised by an upright stance, binocular vision, and flight feathers that are adapted for silent flight. In many species the flight feathers are serrated at the edges; this reduces the noise made by the wingbeats and allows the owls to silently hunt their prey. Many species are nocturnal and hunt their prey at...

2018 is year of the bird, a project launched by National Geographic with the aim of increasing awareness about birds and the threats they face. This year is 100 years since the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed, which brought with it increased protection for many bird species. It has also been 100 years since...

Birds will often form aggregations known as flocks when they feed, or fly. The benefit of doing activities as part of a flock is that multiple birds can look out for danger while others forage or fly. Many species will also congregate to form mixed flocks that forage together, this may benefit solitary species that...

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, and are an important part of the diet for many bird species. This variety in seeds has thus led to a wide variety of bird beaks used to feed on them. Seed eating birds can be divided into two groups; those that husk the seed before eating it,...

Many birds make use of black plumage, whole or only partially. In feathers it is melanin pigments that produce the black to reddish-brown colour, these pigments are enclosed in granular structures called melanosomes. The melanosomes make black feathers stronger and more resistant to wear than non-melanised feathers, and often birds that have mostly white plumage...

Energetic and colourful courtship displays are used by many bird species to attract a mate and show readiness to copulate. These displays vary widely and include the use of colourful and ornate breeding plumage; melodious songs; energetic dances; and gift giving. Once a mate is chosen pairs may strengthen bonds using behaviour such as allopreening,...

In the Northern Hemisphere autumn is underway and many birds are making their way back to warmer climates to overwinter in areas with increased prey availability. Many of the bird species that migrate are aerial foragers and waders, migrating between warm areas because their main food source, insects and crustaceans, are more active and abundant...

In many ecosystems birds have various roles including pollination of flowers, maintaining sustainable levels of their prey populations, and removal of waste by scavenging dead organisms. Having a variety of roles mean that birds as a group also have a wide variety of prey and food items to feed on; from plant material, to invertebrates...

Bird flight has sparked many people’s imaginations throughout history; inspiring artwork, and aircraft design. Thanks to special adaptations such as feathers, and hollow wing bones, most bird species are capable of flight. Due to the varying sizes and shapes of birds there are different styles of flying. Flapping is common but energy intensive, this flight...

Bird plumage assists birds with more than just flight; colour is often used as a signal of quality, and readiness to mate in the breeding season. Yellow feathers get their colour from carotenoid pigments which birds obtain by eating plants, or by eating organisms that eat plants. Interestingly; carotenoids will also produce red feathers when...

Gamebirds are a diverse group and include both waterfowl and landfowl, their diversity extends to the wide range of habitats that they occupy; from lowland deserts to tropical rainforests, on all continents except Antarctica. These birds can be sustainably harvested making them appealing for human use as a food source or for recreation, either by...

The wonderful colours often observed when birds interact with flowers have inspired many works of art; from a painting style in Chinese history based entirely on this theme, to modern day bird photography. Often the relationship between birds and flowers is mutualistic; birds obtain nesting material and food, and flowering plants are pollinated. Some bird...

The beautiful plumage and mating dances of cranes have made these species popular with people across the world. Cranes feature in the mythology of various cultures, for example in Japan, cranes symbolise good fortune and longevity. Despite their popularity, many cranes face an uncertain future. Of the fifteen species of crane in the world, 11...

LBJ is a term used in many birding circles, to describe small, brown, passerine birds, like cisticolas and larks. These birds are often overlooked for their bigger, and more colourful counterparts. But when you take the time to watch and photograph these little brown birds, you can really appreciate their subtle beauty. This week we...