Birdwatching Term – Dabbling Duck

Blue-Winged-Teal-Dabbling ©Flyways USFWS

Blue-Winged-Teal-Dabbling ©Flyways USFWS

Dabbling Duck

What does it mean when a duck “dabbles” or is a “dabbling duck”?

This group of ducks has been so named because its members feed mainly on vegetable matter by upending on the water surface, or grazing, and only rarely dive. These are mostly gregarious ducks of freshwater or estuaries. These birds are strong fliers and northern species are highly migratory. Compared to other types of duck, their legs are placed more towards the centre of their bodies. They walk well on land, and some species feed on land.

Puddle ducks generally feed on the surface of the water or feed on very shallow bottoms. They are not equipped to dive down several feet like their diving counterparts. The most predominant difference between puddle ducks and divers are the size of the feet. A puddle duck’s feet are generally smaller because they do not need the extra propulsion to dive for their forage.

Another distinguishing characteristic of puddle ducks when compared to diving ducks is the way in which they take flight when spooked or are on the move.

Puddle ducks spring straight up from the water, and diving ducks need to gain momentum to take off, so they must run across the water a short distance to gain flight.

These Ducks belong to the Anatine sub-family of the Swans, Geese, and Duck Family.

Mallard-Takes-Off ©Flyways USFWS

Mallard-Takes-Off ©Flyways USFWS

For the younger reader:

What does it mean when a duck “dabbles” or is a “dabbling duck”?

They are called that because these ducks feed mainly on vegetable matter (plants) by upending on the water surface (They put their head in the water to eat and their tail section is all that is seen above the water.) or grazing, and only rarely dive.

When they take flight, they spring straight up from the water. The Diving ducks have to sort of run to take-off.

(Wikipedia with editing)

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? (Mat 6:26 AMP)

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See:

Swans, Geese, and Duck Family.

Dabbling Ducks – Flyways.us

Dabbling Ducks – Wikipedia

More Birdwatching Terms

Wordless Birds

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Birdwatching Term – Frontal Shield

White-winged Coot (Fulica leucoptera) Cropped ©WikiC

White-winged Coot (Fulica leucoptera) Cropped ©WikiC

Frontal Shield

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4 KJV)

The Coot article mentioned the shield. “Coots have prominent frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead…”

What is a “frontal shield”?

The place above the upper beak (upper mandible) has a plate-like area. It is made of a fleshy material. When the Lord created those birds that have the shield, He gave them each a different looking shield. It is neat to see the variety that the shields have. I am sure that the bird uses them to know which are their kind.

Below are some photos of the various Frontal Shields on the birds. There are more birds that have shield, but this just a sample of these unique birds.

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“You have also given me the shield of your salvation: and your right hand has held me up, and your gentleness has made me great.” (Psalms 18:35 AKJV)

See:

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Bible Birds – Facts About Bird Eggs

 

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) by Bob-Nan

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) by Bob-Nan

Eggs

Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. (Job 39:13-15 KJV)

The largest bird egg is from the Ostrich Sturthio camelus. The egg measures 15 – 20 cm long, 10 – 15 cm in diameter and weighs 1 – 1.78 kg.
Largest egg ~ Ostrich  ~ measuring 17.8 by 14 cm (7 by 4.5 in)
Smallest egg laid relative to body weight ~ Ostrich egg ~ at 1.5%

Ostrich Egg ©WikiC

Ostrich Egg ©WikiC

An ostrich egg needs to be boiled for 2 hours to get a hard-boiled egg.

Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg? (Job 6:6 KJV)

Thinking

Largest Egg – living ~ Ostrich
Largest Egg – ever ~ Elephant Bird Aepyornis maximus From Madagascar 39cm/15.4in long = 12 litres/2.6 gallons, 220 chicken eggs, egg weighed 27 pounds.

Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) by Ian

Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) by Ian

Largest egg laid by a passerine ~ 5 7 g (2 oz) by Australian Lyrebirds
Largest egg laid relative to body weight ~ Little Spotted Kiwi at 26%

Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) ©WikiC

Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) ©WikiC

Smallest known egg ~ the Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima of Jamacia and nearby islets. The egg is barely the size of a pea and measures less than 10 mm in length and weighs 0.356 g.
You could put 4700 bee hummingbird eggs inside one ostrich egg. The Bee Hummingbird egg is the size of a small pea and weighs .02 ounces. World’s Smallest Bird
Smallest egg ~ West Indian Vervain Hummingbird ~ at 10 mm (0.39 in) in length and 0.375 g (0.0132 oz)
Smallest Egg – living ~ Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima ~ the size of pea

Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:12-13 KJV)

Shape

Different Eggs- Birds and Others - from Wikipedia

Different Eggs- Birds and Others – from Wikipedia

The majority of avian eggs match the shape of chicken eggs, but there are some exceptions.

  • Budgies, for instance, tend to lay very round eggs.
  • Fast-flying, stream-lined birds like swifts and swallows lay long, elliptical eggs.
  • Owls tend to lay very spherical eggs.
  • Roundest eggs ~ Owls, Tinamous
Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) ©©Flickr

Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) ©©Flickr

The Royal Albatross’ eggs take 79 days to hatch.
Precocial birds like chickens, ostriches, ducks, and seagulls hatch ready to move around. They come from eggs with bigger yolks than altricial birds like owls, woodpeckers, and most small songbirds that need a lot of care from parents in order to survive.

Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo) egg ©©Wong Dermayu

Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo) egg ©©Wong Dermayu

Longest interval between eggs laid ~ Maleo ~ at 1012 day intervals

Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) by Robert Scanlon by Robert Scanlon

Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) by Robert Scanlon by Robert Scanlon

Largest clutch laid by a nidicolous species ~ 19 eggs laid by a European Blue Tit
Largest clutch laid by a nidifugous species ~ 28 by a Bobwhite Quail
Largest average clutch size ~ 15-19 by a Gray Partridge
Smallest clutch size ~ 1 egg laid every 2 years by Albatrosses

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) By Dan'sPix

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) By Dan’sPix at Lake Hollingsworth

Greatest number of eggs laid consecutively ~ 146 by a Mallard
Most valuable bird ~ 8 billion domestic chickens ~ produce 562 billion eggs annually
Highest price paid for an egg ~ 1,000 British pounds for an egg of extinct Aepyornis maximus

And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. (Isaiah 10:14 KJV)

Shell

Bird eggshells are diverse. For example:

  • Cormorant eggs are rough and chalky
  • Tinamou eggs are shiny
  • Duck eggs are oily and waterproof
  • Cassowary eggs are heavily pitted

Tiny pores in bird eggshells allow the embryo to breathe. The domestic hen’s egg has around 7500 pores.

The most yolks ever found in a single chicken’s egg is nine.

Nests

Mallee Fowl Mound ©©

Largest individual nest ~ Mallee Fowl Australia Leipoa ocellata ~ builds a mound 5 m (16.5ft) high and 11 metres (36ft) wide. A mound this size means the bird moved 250 cubic metres of vegetation and 300 tons of soil.
Smallest nest ~

  • many seabirds do not make a nest at all, nest on ground or
  • in case of Fairy Tern on a branch of a tree
  • The prize goes to the Hummingbirds for their thimble sized (1cm squared) nests.

The largest nest was built by a pair of Bald Eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus was 2.9 m wide and 6 m deep.

Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) ©WikiC

Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) ©WikiC

The Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata which measures 35 cm and nests on islands in the North Pacific excavates a burrow of 2 – 3 m in length. Burrows up to 6 m are not uncommon and 8 m burrows have also been found.

The only species of parrot that builds a nest is the Quaker Parrot. The Quakers link their nests together to form structures akin to “bird condominiums”. These nests can reach weights greater than 200 lbs.

Largest recorded nesting bird colony: 136 million Passenger Pigeon nesting in an area in Wisconsin covering 1,942 sq km (750 sq mi)

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord created each bird’s egg to help it survive and for it to do His command to:

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:22 NKJV)

(Various internet resources used and Wikipedia)

See Also:

Formed By Him – Bird Eggs
When I Consider – Guillemot
Egg And Nest Identification
Bird Eggs Photo Search
Hummingbird Nest & Eggs

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Birdwatching Term – Mobbing

 

Crow on Eagles Back ©©

Maybe A Little Too Close – Crow on Eagles Back ©©

Birdwatching Term – Mobbing

In the recent article, The Old Orchard Bully – Chapter 2, the whole group of birds united to chase off the Black Cat. That is called, “mobbing.”

Some ask why don’t the bigger birds fight back? Here are a few quotes from various sources:

“This behavior – like calling your family for help – is used by many bird species. The best time to observe mobbing is spring and early summer, when breeding birds are trying to protect their nests and young. Birds including swallows, blackbirds, and even these American Crows, seen here mobbing a Red-tailed Hawk, know that there is strength and power in numbers. And they’ve learned to join forces to protect themselves. Be sure to watch the video!”

Quote from Why Don’t Hawks Fight Back? :All agreed that if a red-tailed hawk reached out and grabbed a crow with its talons, that would be the end of the crow. Or as one of the professionals put it, in scientific terms, “the crow would be toast.” But although large raptors have the necessary weapons, the energy cost of pursuing or otherwise attempting to catch a crow is normally not worth it. Crows are agile creatures and would be very difficult to catch in flight. So a hawk typically ignores the crows or flies away.”

A Great Horned Owl being mobbed!

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Just as the Lord helps His Created critters, the Lord gives us promises about seeking His help:

But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” (2 Kings 17:39 NKJV)

Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, For it is He who shall tread down our enemies. (Psalms 60:11-12 NKJV)

I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed. (Psalms 18:37 NKJV)

O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. (Psalms 25:2 NKJV)

My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me. (Psalms 31:15 NKJV)

For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever. Selah (Psalms 44:6-8 NKJV)

Some interesting links about mobbing:

Why Don’t The Crows Fight Back? – Savannah River Ecology Lab

Small Birds Mob Big Ones – Bird Note, with audio

Mobbing – RSPB

The Superb Fairywren – The Corporate Mob ~ by a j mithra

Birdwatching Terms

Birdwatching Tips 

Watching Birds

Wordless Birds

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Birdwatching Terms – About’s Bird Bill Parts

Bird Bill Parts From About

About's Bill-Parts ©Dan Pancamo/nigel

About’s Bill-Parts ©Dan Pancamo/nigel

Bird Bill Parts.  ©Dan Pancamo / nigel

The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. (Genesis 8:11 NASB)

A bird’s bill, also called a beak, is a critical piece of its anatomy, not only for foraging, defense, singing and other behaviors, but also for birders to make a proper identification. Depending on the bird, a bill can provide clues to far more than species: age, gender, diet and foraging behaviors can all be learned by studying a bill. By knowing the basic parts of a bill and the bird’s face and head immediately adjacent to the bill, birders can be better prepared to look for the subtle clues bills can reveal about every bird.

Overall Bill Features

Some of the most important aspects of a bird’s bill are not specific features, but the general jizz of the bill. When first studying bird bills, look for…

  • Size: How large does the bill appear in proportion to the bird’s head? Check for length as compared to the length of the head as well as the width of the bill and how that width may change along the bill’s length.
  • Shape: Bill shapes vary widely, from delicate triangles or thin, needle-like bills to thick, bulbous bills to sharply curved bills to radical shapes that include spoon-like tips or horny casques. When the shape is very unique, that can be a diagnostic clue for a bird’s identity even if other field marks cannot be seen.
  • Color: The color of a bill can be a clue for species, gender or age. Note the overall color as well as any specific markings, such as a colored tip or base, subterminal band or color differences between the top and bottom of the bill.

Specific Bill Parts

When birders can get a good look at a bill, there are a number of different parts that can yield clues about the bird’s identity, such as…

  1. Lores: While not part of the bill itself, the lores are the space between the base of a bird’s bill and the forward edge of its eyes. This area may be a different color or show a smudge or eye line that can be an identification clue.
  2. Nares: More commonly called the nostrils, the position of the nares as well as their size and shape are important to note for bird’s identities. In some types of birds, such as raptors, the nares are covered by a fleshy cere, while in others, such as many seabirds, elongated tube-like nares help filter seawater.
  3. Maxilla: Also called the upper mandible, the maxilla is the top half of a bird’s bill. Size, length and shape will vary, and some birds have knobs, fleshy wattles or other features that distinguish the maxilla.
  4. Culmen: Difficult to see on many bird species, the culmen is the center line drawn down the length of a bird’s maxilla. In some species, this can be a very distinct peak that divides the sides of the bill, while it may not be noticeable in other species.
  5. Tip: The tip of a bird’s bill may be different shapes, such as blunt or sharply pointed, depending on the bird’s general diet. Hooks are common at the tip of carnivorous birds’ bills, while many waterfowl have small bumps, called nails, on the tip of the maxilla.
  6. Mandible: The lower half of a bird’s bill is called the mandible or lower mandible. The color may vary from the maxilla either along the entire length or just at one end, and can be a great clue for identification. Some birds, such as many gulls, may show spots or other markings just on the mandible.
  7. Chin: Not directly part of the bill, the chin is the area of feathers immediately adjacent to the base of a bird’s mandible. In some species, the color of the chin may vary from the throat or face, providing a valuable identification clue.
  8. Gape: This is a fleshy area at the base of the bill where the upper and lower mandibles meet. In young birds, it is often enlarged or may seem so because the birds have not developed their mature feathers to help conceal it, and it may be brightly colored so their mouths are more noticeable when they beg for food. On some species, such as the bananaquit, the gape remains colorful on adult birds.
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) by Raymond Barlow

Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) by Raymond Barlow

It can be difficult to see many of the subtle details of a bird’s bill, but understanding the different bill parts is a great way for birders to refine their identification skills and learn more about every bird they see.

Photo – Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (Above) © Dan Pancamo
Photo – House Finch (Below) © nigel

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This is a good introduction to the bird’s bill. Look for more articles on the individual parts of the beak.

From About Birding/Wild Birds – Bird Identification

More Birdwatching Terms 

Birdwatching Tips

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Mnemonics – What is That?

 

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Lee at Circle B

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Lee at Circle B

Mnemonics – What is That?

When birdwatchers want to identify a bird, many times all they are able to do is hear it. Can you listen to a bird and know what kind it is? Some birders use a help called “mnemonics.”

(Definition of mnemonics from Kids Wordsmyth)

mne·mon·ics
pronunciation: ni ma nihks [or] nih ma nihks
part of speech: plural noun
definition: a process, system, or technique used to aid and improve the memory.

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

Many birds say their name, like a Eastern Wood Pewee.

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Carolina Chickadee – “feebee feebay, chick’adee-dee-dee”

Blue Jay by Dan at Bok Tower

Blue Jay by Dan at Bok Tower

Blue Jay – -“jay”

Another way mnemonics are used is to make up a phrase or saying of what the bird sounds like.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

Carolina Wren – “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle”

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) by Ray

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) by Ray

Eastern Towhee – “drink-your-teeee”

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) ©USFWS

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) ©USFWS

White-Throated Sparrow – “poor Sam Pea’body, Pea’body, Pea’body”

This is just an introduction to using “mnemonics” to help you find out what that neat bird your listening to is called. We will cover more birds later. The Lord has given us so many beautiful birds to watch and listen to. Each bird has it’s own songs and calls, but there are so many. How do we figure out who is who? Using this method is just one more way to help.

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. (Proverbs 8:33 ESV)

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, (Proverbs 1:5 ESV)

See:

Birdwatching Term – Nape

Blue-naped Mousebird (Urocolius macrourus) at Cincinnati Zoo)

Blue-naped Mousebird at Cincinnati Zoo)

My son, listen to your father’s discipline, and do not neglect your mother’s teachings, because discipline and teachings are a graceful garland on your head and a golden chain around your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9 GW)

Nape – An easy definition is the back of the neck.

Birdwatching Term – Nape (Relocated )