What kind of bird is this?

What kind of bird is this?

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Found in southwest Michigan. It appears to have fallen from a nest.

The body shape does seem to indicate it's some kind of heron/egret (12 species, of which, have been previously found in Michigan [according to Wikipedia]).

The seemingly large size from your picture (please edit with actual or best approximation of size), the tufted feathers on the head, white face, and the start of a black line on the anterior edge of the eye all suggest that this could be a great blue heron.

Great blue herons are typically grey (not the dark almost black of your specimen), but I did find some photos with nestlings /fledglings with darker plumage, including below:

Source: Wikipedia

In ornithology, a song (s) is generally defined as a vocalization used in primarily territorial and mate attraction/retention contexts. Calls (c) include all other categories of avian vocalizations. Thus, while the most complex and beautiful avian vocalizations are songs, this category can also include harsh and simple sounds.
Calls can often be attractive to our ears as well, but typically they are simpler and often harsher than songs from the same species. While in many species it is easy to distinguish songs and calls, in many others it is difficult or impossible for humans to do so, particularly in sound recordings when the bird cannot be directly observed. We have generally used “song” when a vocalization clearly falls in this category, and “call” for all others however, consistency in this matter is seemingly impossible to achieve, particularly in a group effort such as this.
We have therefore begun to indicate in the “details on type” field if there is considerable uncertainty as to whether a given vocalization is a song or a call.

Most birds make a variety of non-vocal sounds, intentionally or otherwise, and Project AVoCet includes all such sounds.
Numerous species of birds use mechanical sounds in a song context, for example drumrolls of woodpeckers air sac-popping, tail quill-rattling, and foot-stamping of some grouse drumming of snipe, in which air rushing between tail quills creates a pulsed sound cracks, pops, and whines produced by wings of manakins, etc.
Foraging birds may make noises, such as the tapping of woodpeckers twig-breaking of feeding hornbills or seed-cracking of parrots and grosbeaks. Many birds routinely make wing sounds in normal or escape flight, and these can be highly characteristic.
Nest-hole-excavating woodpeckers, splashing waterbirds, walking penguins, and many others round out the inventory of bird sounds. While most of these sounds would not be useful in playback or for taxonomic analysis, for example, they could be biologically informative and hence are all candidates for inclusion.

7 Main Types of Flightless Birds found in the World

It is called Shutarmurg in Hindi. It is the largest living flightless bird. Ostrich has the largest eyes of any land animal. Ostrich swallows small stones to aid their digestion of vegetable matter. It can run at the speed of 60 kms. per hour.

The male possesses a penis, which serves the copulatory function. Usually one male lives in a group of females. Each foot bears two unequal toes provided with pads, which help the bird in fast running. Ostrich lays the largest egg produced by any living bird. It is commonly found in the deserts of Africa and Arabia.

Flightless Bird: Type # 3 . Kiwi (Apteryx):

It is the New Zealand’s Emblem bird. It has a good sense of smell and acute hearing. It finds its prey through its sense of smell. Kiwi has most sensi­tive beak among birds. It can detect worms in the ground. It has poor eye sight. Kiwi lays the largest egg in pro­portion to its own size. The male bird builds the nest and incubates sitting on one or more eggs.

Flightless Bird: Type # 4 . Aptenodytes (Penguin):

Penguins are gregarious flightless birds and live in cold sea waters of the South Pole specially in Antarctica. They feed on fishes, etc. Their wings are modified into swimming flippers. Each leg is webbed and has four toes. There is present a thick layer of fat under the skin which prevents the loss of body heat. Male penguin alone incubates the egg without feeding for two months.

Flightless Bird: Type # 5 . Rhea (Rhea):

It is found in South America. Rhea is smaller than ostrich but its habits are quite similar to ostrich. It has 3 clawed toes on each foot. Its head and neck are feathered, not naked as in ostrich. The male is polygamous. It is called “South American Ostrich”.

Flightless Bird: Type # 6 . Emu (Dromaius):

It is the second largest living bird. It is confined to Australia. Emu is invariably monogamous though seen in small parties after breeding.

Flightless Bird: Type # 7 . Cassowary (Casuarius):

It is the world’s third largest flightless bird. It lives in Australia, New Guinea and adjacent islands. It is shy and nocturnal. Each foot has 3-clawed toes. Old males may attack even human beings if disturbed. Cassowary found in the tropical Papua. New Guinea is the world’s most dangerous bird. Flightless birds belong to the super order Ratitae.

What Is the Job Demand for Ornithologists?

The Ornithological Societies of North America estimate that there are about 6,000 ornithologists employed in the United States. Again, BLS doesn't collect data on ornithologists specifically, but the more broad profession of zoologists and wildlife biologists held about 20,100 jobs in 2012. Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Competition for jobs is strong.

Who can band birds?

Because banding birds requires capturing the birds and handling them before the banding takes place, the banding of birds in the United States is controlled under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and requires a federal banding permit. Some states require a state permit as well. Only official federal bands can be legally placed on birds that are released to the wild within the United States.

Banders are a select group. Master Banders include federal and state agencies, university researchers, bird observatories, and private individuals. Waterfowl are banded only by federal and state agencies. Private individuals are not normally allowed to band waterfowl as the banding information is used to set harvest regulations.

Persons who want to apply for a banding permit must be able to show that they are qualified to safely trap, handle, and band the birds. The applicant is responsible for acquiring all training none is provided by the Bird Banding Laboratory. Some potential banders learn in an apprenticeship program, working one-on-one with an active bander. Others learn by visiting bird observatories or banding groups. Still others take courses in banding and handling birds.

Structure of the excretory system of birds

1- The Kidneys

The most important organs of the excretory system of birds are the kidneys. These are two reddish brown organs, each generally consisting of three lobes.

They are found behind the lungs and on each side of the spine of the birds. The kidneys have two thin, straight tubes connected in their mid-lateral part known as ureters (PoultryHub, 2017).

A kidney is made up of the renal cortex and the renal medulla. A microscopic examination of a dissected kidney shows how it is composed of a large number of renal tubules or Nephrons , Each of them divided into cortical and medullary parts.

Birds have two types of nephrons, similar to those found in mammals with a Henlewing (Used to help concentrate urine) found in the renal medulla, and other reptilian nephrons located in the renal cortex.

Nephrons have a duty to extract components of the urine from the blood that flows through the kidneys.

A nephron is composed of a complex network of capillaries contained by a capsule, called Bowman's capsule , In which the blood is directly filtered. It also has a spiral segment ranging from the Bowman Capsule to the Henna Asa (in the mammalian nephrons) and finally have a Distal tubule Which directs the urine to the ureters for subsequent removal of the body.

2- The Ureters

The ureters open and connect to the sewer, located adjacent to the vas deferens of the male or female oviduct. The ureters are connected internally to the kidneys through funnel-shaped structures in each of the lobes of the kidney.

They are conduits that are used to transport the urine directly to the sewer. Since birds do not have a bladder, the ureters must deposit the filtrate through the kidneys into the sewer chamber intended for storage (Kalhagen, 2017).

3- The Cloaca

The sewer is an organ located at the bottom of the digestive, excretory and reproductive systems of birds. It is used to expel faeces and lay eggs.

It is located at the back of the body, below the base of the tail of the birds and is covered by feathers at the lower end of the abdomen.

Birds have a single hole to expel faeces, urine and lay eggs. The cloaca is the organ that allows the execution of all these functions to the extent that bird needs it. Within it are multiple folds of skin and muscle that subdivide it into cameras suitable for different uses (Lovette & Fitzpatrick, 2016).

Bird feces are usually stored in one or several chambers of the sewer. Within it, the absorption of nutrients continues and solid and liquid wastes are mixed and excreted simultaneously once the bird's digestion concludes (MAYNTZ, 2017).

4- Urine

Unlike mammals and amphibians, birds generally do not have a bladder. Urine passes directly from the kidneys to the sewer through the ureters, from where it is transported by a Peristaltic movement To the intestine. There the excess water is reabsorbed before the disposal of the waste.

This process of water reabsorption in birds is similar to that in mammals. However, birds lack the ability to concentrate urine as efficiently as mammals can.

The urine of the birds in a thick paste with a low water content and a high content of uric acid, product of the nitrogen metabolism.

After being mixed in the sewer with solid waste, it is expelled from the bird's body in the form of white or creamy paste on the solid stool.

When the kidneys do not function efficiently or normally, and even when the bird has consumed foods rich in protein, uric acid can be concentrated in the blood in such a way that the excretory system is not able to eliminate it.

In these cases, nephrons tend to become inflamed with high concentrations of urea deposits and white lines appear on the surface of the kidneys. The accumulation of urea can lead to damage to kidney cells and to the eventual development of a nephritis .

Likewise, the high concentration of uric acid in the blood can result in the filtration of acid through the capillary walls, resulting in a disease known as visceral gout, characterized by whitish deposits on the surface of the viscera.

Physical Traits

How were birds a step up from reptiles? Their closest relatives were animals from the Crocodilia order. Birds were able to make some physiological improvements.

Feathers: Feathers are just specialized scales. When they first appeared, they weren't used for flying. Scientists really aren't sure what they did. One use other than flying is to attract other birds. They may have been developed to attract the ladies.

Hard shell eggs: While reptiles were the first to have eggs that could survive on land, birds gained an advantage when they developed eggs that had a hard shell. They were stronger and could support the embryo inside through harsher conditions (like rolling out of a nest).

Hollow bones: When it comes time to fly, the lighter you are the better. As time passed, bird-like creatures that had lighter bones were able to do more. Eventually those lighter bones had big empty spaces that were hollow. They are more fragile than regular bones in mammals, but much better for flying.


Place your feeder in the shade away from windows and areas with a lot of activity. If possible, place your feeder near trees. Hummingbirds are territorial and like to perch in nearby trees to chase away intruders at their feeding area.

A Billion Bird Flock: The magic, mystery, and biology of bird migration

A flock of sandpipers in Canada

Imagine a billion birds passing overhead during your morning commute. This isn’t the plot of some cheap Hitchcock knock off it’s the exact situation John J. Audubon (yes, that Audubon) found himself in during the autumn of 1813 in Kentucky:

The air was literally filled with Pigeons the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose…Before sunset I reached Louisville…. The Pigeons were still passing in undiminished numbers, and continued to do so for three days in succession… The banks of the Ohio [river] were crowded with men and boys, incessantly shooting at the pilgrims… For a week or more, the population fed on no other flesh than that of Pigeons, and talked of nothing but Pigeons.

This excerpt describes the Passenger Pigeon’s extraordinary fall migration from the Northern US and Canada to the Southern United States. Audubon’s words begin to describe the enormity of this species. During their heyday, colonies of Passenger Pigeons were so large that their combined weight broke tree limbs, and the amount of poop they produced influenced the composition of forest vegetation. During migration, a single flock of these birds over Ontario, Canada was estimated to be over 1 mile wide and 300 miles long, and to contain 3.5 billion birds.

Sadly, you and I will never see this awe-inspiring event in real life or on an episode of Planet Earth. As of 1914, over-hunting and habitat destruction killed all 3-5 billion Passenger Pigeons in the world.

While this story reminds us of the importance of conservation and sustainable practices, it also provides a stunning example of the scale and grandeur of bird migrations. It’s estimated that 1,800 species of birds (about 20% of all species) migrate in some form each year, many of them right under our noses (or more accurately, above our heads)! Migration is especially evident during fall in the United States when over 40-50% of all bird species migrate south to the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

In honor of the spring migration, I’m hatching this three-part segment of The Birdphiles to answer some common questions about bird migration. In the spirit of my previous article on Darwin’s finches pigeons, I’ll dispel some bird myths along the way. So, without further ado, lets make like penguins and dive right in!

Diversity in bird migration

Birds are some of the most conspicuous migratory animals in nature. For many people, the word “migration” immediately conjures the image of thirty geese flying in a “V” formation through the midday sky. Yet this one example can’t encapsulate the magnitude, beauty, and diversity of bird migrations. Individual species differ drastically in many aspects of migration including how far they travel, which route they choose, and their general migration strategy. Even within a species there is variability in which individuals migrate and when. Below, I’ve included an info-graphic to help illustrate some of the amazing diversity and beauty in bird migration.

Why migrate in the first place?

Let’s get one thing straight: migration is tiresome, dangerous, James Bond level business. Long bouts of flight require large amounts of energy and can damage flight feathers. Birds that migrate during the day fall prey to predatory birds like the Eleonora’s Falcon, while nighttime migrants are picked off in mid-flight by killer bats (at least in parts of Europe). Even without predation, large concentrations of birds may increase the spread of pathogens and parasites between individuals.

If I had to worry about killer bats and infection, I wouldn’t leave home, let alone fly an 11,000 mile round trip journey from Europe to China (like the Pied Wheatear). With all of these caveats, why do birds migrate in the first place?

Research and convention point toward both food availability and baby making as the driving forces behind bird migration. Birds need energy to defend a territory, attract a partner, build a nest and produce eggs. Moreover, once those eggs hatch, some species invest a huge amount of energy in feeding their chicks.

Many birds migrate to the Northern Hemisphere during spring when days become longer and food is more abundant. These conditions provide the fuel for reproduction and may provide parents more time to feed their hungry chicks.

As winter approaches, those hungry hatchlings become fully-fledged birds that compete with their parents for increasingly limited resources. These conditions make it advantageous for birds to migrate back to the Southern hemisphere where spring is just beginning.

It’s important to note that as with many aspects of migration, research on this topic is incomplete at best. It is likely that other factors such as habitat availability (for nest building) or avoidance of predators (which may be present in some places but not others) provide additional motivation to migrate, at least in some species.

Migration myth busting

While there are many things about bird migration we don’t know, there are a couple things we do know. For instance, some common “facts” about bird migration are complete bupkis. There are two myths in particular I’d like to address:

Myth 1: Birds in North America migrate south for the winter. This is a bit like thinking the universe revolves around the earth. Just because you live in North America doesn’t mean everyone else does. Most migratory species in North America are tropical birds that, over time, evolved to migrate north for their winter (that is, winter in the Southern hemisphere). Additionally, many species you see during winter have actually flown down from Canada or other Northerly regions. Not exactly what you traditionally think of as “south”.

Myth 2: Birds migrate because it’s cold outside. Don’t push your hatred of the cold off on my avian peeps! The fact is, while some birds migrate because they aren’t adapted to low temperatures, other birds have a variety of physical and behavioral adaptations to handle the cold.

Before being co-opted for flight, feathers were thought to serve a different purpose: research suggests that feathers were likely used by dinosaurs to regulate their body temperature! When a pigeon in NYC puffs up to twice its normal size, it traps air between its feathers, and if you can recall from high school physics class, air is a great insulator. The big challenge for a bird may actually be staying cool during the summer heat, both because of their fantastic insulation and because birds have the metabolism of Michael Phelps (though, of course, birds can handle heat as well).

Coming up next

So birds are eager beavers who migrate yearly to help with baby making, but how do they actually do it (the migration that is)? Want to know how a bird’s navigation abilities put Garmin to shame? I’ll give you a hint: if you can’t smell where this article is going, I guarantee a pigeon could (assuming where at least 300 miles near our final destination).

Additional Links

Image Credits

Michael Wheelock is a birder, basketball player, and graduate student at The Rockefeller University. Catch him on twitter @MSWheelock and follow his series #TheBirdphiles.

Anatomy Of A Hummingbird: What Makes Up These Tiny Birds?

Did you know there are between 328-340 hummingbird species! Most species can be found in tropical climates, such as Mexico. However, they can also be found from far south as Argentina to as far north as Alaska. So how can the bodies of these little creatures conform to various climates and environments? To answer this question, we need to learn more about the hummingbird anatomy.

We will look at the Ruby-Throat species anatomy because of its prevalence here in the US. Primarily the Ruby-Throat anatomy is like most birds, although there are variations in the size of their parts/structures, etc.

Hummingbirds vary in weight anywhere from 2 to 20 grams, which can be compared to the weight of a small piece of jewelry, or small coin. A tiny frame equals small eggs, which are about the size of a pea, while their nest is the size of a walnut!

The mouth of a hummingbird is unique. The bill measures about 15-20 mm in length and can open to just about 1cm wide, which is comparable to the width of a fettuccine noodle. One common misconception is that the bill is used as a straw to slurp up nectar. This is not true in fact, the hummingbird tongue is used to ingest nectar in the way a dog or cat drinks water (about 12 slurps per second).

The digestive system of hummingbirds is made up of over eight organs which help the hummingbirds&rsquo metabolism to run efficiently. They can also store up to 45% of fat in their livers around the time of migration, which explains their ability to expend such large amounts of energy.

Hummingbirds to some extent have the largest heart of all animals. Their heart is 2.5% of their weight. 250 beats per minute is their average heart rate, which increases to about 1,220 beats per minute in flight. The state, known as torpor, allows hummingbirds to conserve energy and lower their basal metabolic rate. They do this by lowering their body temperature from a normal 105 degrees F, down to 70 degrees F.

The muscular system is one of the most important &ndash especially the chest and wing muscles that allow them to fly. These muscles make up a larger portion of their weight &ndash about 10% more than other flying birds. Unlike other birds, a hummingbird's elbows and wrists bones are fused together. However, their shoulder has a motion of 180 degrees. Because of this motion, a hummingbird's wings are no doubt a powerhouse!

Hummingbirds in flight are often compared to that of a helicopter. The only difference is a helicopters propeller action which moves in a circular motion continuously, while a hummingbird's wings move backward and forward while switching angles &ndash somewhat like a figure 8 motion. This motion allows them to remain balanced in flight. More so, the chest muscles (over a 1/3 of their body mass) helps to power its wings.

The hummingbird reproductive organs are active during mating season only, which is typical for most birds. When a female becomes pregnant, they form &ldquooffspring&rdquo patches on their bellies. The belly feathers fall out and the belly becomes full of fluid creating a warm water pouch so the mother can keep her young warm and so that her eggs can eventually hatch.

The brain of a hummingbird is large compared to its body, however, it is suggested that they may rely more on instinct, unlike some other songbirds who have a small ability to learn. Larger areas of a hummingbird brain include the areas that control their muscle activity and vision.

The senses in hummingbirds vary. They lack a sense of smell, while their sense of vision is strong. They have increased light and color sensors. So to answer the question, are hummingbirds more so attracted to the color red&hellip they are attracted to red because so many of the flowers they receive nectar from are red. However, because their visual senses are so intense, they appear to see other colors just as well. Ultimately, where there is nectar &ndash they will come!

For being such a small bird, hummingbirds have more bones than you would think. Most have 2 more ribs and about double the neck vertebrae found in other birds. However, the number of bones in a hummingbird body is unconfirmed.

Nature is truly amazing, and we can appreciate its complexity when studying species such as the hummingbird. So, the next time the subject of hummingbirds comes up, you can impress your friends and family and act as the hummingbird expert!

Watch the video: Jeannie Seely-What Kind Of Bird Is That (November 2022).