Birders’ Digest – Vol. 2

A few of the feathered friends of note below:

New Zealand

  • This was the only albatross we saw in New Zealand, spotted during the ferry ride across the Cook Strait. Unfortunately, we missed out seeing the Royal Albatross.
  • The banded dotterel, also known as the double-banded plover is, like many species in New Zealand, considered a nationally vulnerable species thanks to habitat destruction.

 

Australia

  • Willie wagtail, which might be the best name for any animal ever, lived up to his name. As he hopped around on the ground, every time he stopped, he would pause and shake his rump back and forth several times.
  • The sulphur-crested cockatoo is a massive pest, often destroying entire fruit trees with apparently no provocation besides amusing itself. Many Australians that grow fruit have devised elaborate ways to protect trees (e.g. netting) or drive the birds away (one man we met indicated that people occasionally set off explosions in the general area of the trees to scare them off).
  • The Australian brush-turkey, one of three native species of mound building birds, is a pretty interesting bird. The male creates very large mounds out of grass, leaves, twigs and dirt, which can extend as much as 12 ft. in diameter and up to 3 ft. tall. The large mound is designed to maintain the inside temperature at a precise 91 degrees F, and the male will either add material to increase insulation or remove it to allow heat to escape. Both sexes possess highly-accurate temperature sensors in their upper beak, and females investigate the mounds during breeding season, selecting males that have built nests with the most accurate temperature. Up to 24 eggs can be laid in a single mound, with a very low survival rate due to predation – around 1 in 200. However, chicks are independent immediately after birth. Quite a hardworking little guy!

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