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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Why Use The Birds of the World?

Green-billed Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) ©WikiC

Green-billed Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) ©WikiC

The list of all the Birds of the World are updated about every four months. Which we try to keep up with their (I.O.C.) newest lists.

You are probably wondering why you would need it. Let me share some things about it and then give you some ideas how it my be handy for one of your school projects.

The I.O.C. is actually the International Ornithological Committee. “Ornithological” basically means those who study birds or bird related. They maintain a list of all the birds around the world. They set standards of how to name them, what scientific classification to place the birds in, and divide them into Orders and Families, etc.

They are needed because we may call a bird by one name, yet someone in a different country or area may call it by a different name. They realize that those two names belong to the same bird. It is a very hard task to keep track of all those 10,000 plus birds, but that is what they try to do.

They give every bird an English name as a standard. Then they also want every one to spell the words the same. For instance, some people spell the “Grey” or “Gray” to mean the same color. To keep things simple, all the birds are spelled as “Grey.” That is just one example.

There are committees all over the world working on the birds of the area they live in, then those committees get together to combine all the list to make one big list. That is what was just updated.

On our Birds of the World section, you will find the birds listed by Orders (40 main classifications), then by Families (240 groups of closely related birds). The reason all of that is not duplicated here would be very time-consuming. There are hundreds of pages and thousands of photos on that site.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) by Dan

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) by Dan

Projects for school or your own information:

You know the name of a bird’s name, but need to find  the Species name,  Go to the Species Index to find these choices:

If you know that it called Madagascan something, go to the First Name of Bird  index and choose the “M” page

If you know it is a Duck, go to the Last Name of Bird  index and choose the “D – Last Name” page.

The Families have four indexes to help you find the Families of birds.

When you find your bird in the right family, almost every bird has a link to a photo or video.

I will share more tips on how to use those indexes in another article.

Another reason is because we believe the Lord created all the beautiful birds and He should get all the credit.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 NKJV)

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

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