Saturday, February 2, 2013

Did You Know ... ?

A few fun facts about several bird species.

Hooded Merganser

  • Hooded Mergansers are especially skilled at diving and foraging underwater. These striking beauties are able to remain submerged for up to two minutes. Once prey is captured, they resurface and toss and turn it until positioned to be swallowed head first. This behavior allows the merganser to avoid injury from the spiny fins of certain fish species.
  • The especially muscular gizzards of Hooded Mergansers assist them in pulverizing the exoskeletons of shellfish.

Roseate Spoonbill

  • It is widely believed that the pink plumage of Roseate Spoonbills is a result of algae eaten by the crustaceans these bird typically consume.
  • A Roseate Spoonbill is able to breathe with its bill underwater because the nostrils are located at the top of the bill.

Belted Kingfisher

  • Belted Kingfisher parents use their strong bills and feet to excavate a nesting cavity at the end of a long tunnel, usually in river banks near the water. The burrow is either horizontal or slopes slightly upward. Sometimes the pair will line it with grass or leaves.
  • Belted Kingfishers have been known to share their tunnels with swallows. The swallows will hollow out spaces within the tunnel walls for nesting.

Sandhill Crane family

  • Sandhill Cranes often preen with vegetation and mud stained with iron oxide during the breeding season. This practice turns many of their gray feathers a reddish brown color.
  • Sandhill Cranes have a rolling trumpet-like vocalization. The cause of this distinctive rattling is a long, unusual windpipe (trachea) which forms a loop within the breastbone.


  • The outer toe of an Osprey is opposable, thus they are able to carry slippery fish with two toes positioned in front and two toes placed behind.
  • Once a fish is caught, Ospreys will situate the prey so that it is parallel to its own body. This creates a more aerodynamic way to fly.

Wood Stork

  • Wood Storks excrete waste on their legs to cool off. The suns rays evaporate the waste, which cools the bird, similar to sweat.
  • A Wood Stork couple needs about 400 pounds of fish to feed their family during breeding season. When the chicks are small, the parents feed them as often as fifteen times a day by regurgitation.

Yellow Warbler

  • The nests of Yellow Warblers are often parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. Yellow Warblers are able to identify the foreign eggs and will often build a new nest directly on top of the parasitized nest, sometimes burying their own eggs. Nests have been found with up to six tiers.

Green Heron

  • Green Herons are known to project their excrement at the eyes of their predators for self defense purposes.
  • Green Herons are also one of a few tool-using birds. They drop insects, twigs and feathers onto the surface of the water to lure prey in.

Eastern Bluebird

  • Eastern Bluebirds are family oriented. A courting male will try to entice a female by singing, waving his wings and performing flying displays. Once she accepts a nesting site, the male will bring food to her while she incubates the eggs.
  • Occasionally, a young bluebird from the first brood will assist in raising its siblings in the second brood.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have very short legs, thus they are unable to walk or hop. They can scoot sideways, though. These diminutive birds scratch their heads by lifting a foot up and over the wing.
  • It is often mistakenly thought that hummingbirds suck nectar through their long bills. They actually use their fringed, fork tongues to lap the nectar up. While feeding, hummingbirds can lick 10 - 15 times per second.

Posted by Julie Gidwitz


  1. Fun facts to read, Julie. Many I didn't know. I thought it was very interesting to learn that the kingfisher will often share it's tunnel with swallows. How neighborly!! Great post! ~karen

  2. Julie, very interesting post and fun facts on all the birds. The photos are wonderful too! Have a happy weekend!

  3. Love all your beautiful shots. So pretty all the birds and didn't know several of those facts. Hope you enjoy your weekend!

  4. FABULOUS. And, GO GREEN HERONS! That'll freak 'em out. =)

  5. Nice work Julie! I enjoyed your facts and photos as always!

  6. These are all really fun, interesting facts, Julie! Your photos are all stunning, as usual!

  7. Great post, Julie! So the woodstork cools its legs with its own evaporating excrement? I have to go back and look at my woodstork photos. I marvel how you came up with all these fascinating facts

  8. Julie, what wonderful fun fact and photos! I did not know the fact about the yellow warblers building nest on top of one another. Birds are so amazing! Great post!