Tag Archives: Birds

THE SLENDER-BILLED GULL

A Slender-billed gull at Herrenchiemsee
A Slender-billed gull on a pillar at the Herrenchiemsee pier

Determining the species this one belonged to was kind of tricky (analysis paralysis? 😀). It could either have been the dark-headed gull or the slender-billed gull. You see, they resemble each other. Now the typical habitat and where and when this one was captured made it even harder to decide (analysis paralysis?).

THE CHALLENGE 
Both generally look: pale grey body, white head and breast and black tips to the primary wing feathers. Largely white head with black spot behind eyes, red bill and legs.
However, here’s where it gets even trickier. In one (Black-billed Gull), these features are all present only in winter and the other (Slender-billed Gull) breeds very locally around the Mediterranean and the north of the western Indian Ocean. In the latter, even where populations are migratory, they winter further south to north Africa and India. Only a “few birds have wandered to western Europe”. See where the problem was? This bird was captured in Europe (Herrenchiemsee, Germany) and in Summer. Meaning this has to be the Slender-billed Gull. And if that’s the case (it is right? Analysis paralysis), we have on our hands an occasional! We captured the “special case”!👌🏽

MEET THE: SLENDER-BILLED GULL

Scientific name: Chroicocephalus genei

A mid-sized gull with long, sloping forehead and a long, slightly drooping beak, for which it is named. The head, neck, rump and tail are white, while the back and the upper surfaces of the wings are grey, with a white leading edge to the wings and black tips to the outer primary feathers. The underparts are white, sometimes with a rosy tinge. The slender-billed gull has long, blackish-red legs, a dark red beak. Outside the breeding season, the slender-billed gull sometimes has a small, dusky spot on the side of the head.

THE DIFFERENCE
This species, as mentioned earlier can sometimes be confused with the black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus), but is distinguished by its more angular, sloping head, longer bill, white rather than black head during the breeding season, and slightly larger size.

IN HONOR OF
The scientific name of this bird commemorates the Italian naturalist Giuseppe Gené

Photo credits: Gideon A. Davis, Summer 2015.
Location: Herrenchiemsee, Germany

Cc. The Moon King, King Ludwig II of Bavaria (Big fan)

References

1. http://www.arkive.org/slender-billed-gull/larus-genei/

2. http://www.arkive.org/black-headed-gull/larus-ridibundus/

3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slender-billed_gull

WHITE-THROATED BEE-EATER

Several weeks ago, my wife and I drove to the Legon Botanical Gardens. Now that’s a trip we’ve procrastinated on for many months, albeit it being only about 45mins away from where we live. Faithful day, we drove up there and my did nature turn up for me. Among the many was this White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis) my wife spotted and pointed out to me.

A white-throated Bee-eater spotted at the Legon Botanical Gardens
A white-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis)

As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air from an open perch. However, this species probably takes mainly flying ants and beetles. White-throated bee-eaters, like other bee-eaters rely on helpers (usually relatives) to help rear the chicks. They also are gregarious and highly social and often touch each other whilst roosting. They are considered migratory, wintering in a completely different habitat in the equatorial rainforests of Africa from southern Senegal to Uganda.

A flock of White-throated Bee-eaters at the Legon Botanical Gardens
A flock of White-throated Bee-eaters

Photographing this made my day and I hope viewing the end product makes yours! Credit to mein Schatz for spotting for me on the regular.

Info. Source:
http://www.theguardian.com/science/grrlscientist/2012/may/22/10
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-throated_bee-eater

RED-BILLED FIREFINCH

Binomial Name: Lagonosticta senegala
Common Names: Red-Billed Firefinch, Senegal Firefinch

The Red-billed Firefinch belongs to a group of small Passerine birds of the Family Estrildidae. They are characteristically gregarious (social animals, existing in communities) and often colonial seed eaters with short, thick, but pointed bills. They all build large, domed nests and lay five to ten white eggs. They are typically tropical birds.

The red-billed firefinch captured on a manicured lawn
A Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)

Did you know:
– The nest of this species is parasitised by the village indigobird.
– Like most birds, color is the quickest identification for sex. Male fire finches are varying shades of red accented with black, gray or brown. Some species have tiny white- or ivory-colored spots on the breast or flanks. Female birds are mainly earthy brown in color and some have a pinkish wash to the face or breast

A Red-billed Firefinch captured pecking through the grass of a lawn
A pecking Red-billed Firefinch. Note white spots on flanks.

Word of the day: Dimorphic (meaning that males are easily distinguished from females)

Coat of Many Colours

Scarlet Chested Sunbird
The Scarlet-chested Sunbird

The aptly named Scarlet-Chested Sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis, is a strikingly colored Sunbird belonging to the bird family Nectariniidae. They feed mainly on arthropods and nectar, and can often be seen hovering around flowering plants or hawking prey aerially or plucking insects from the ground.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird sucking nectar from an aloe plant
The Scarlet-chested Sunbird feeding from the flower of an Aloe plant

The fellow in the shot is a regular of an Aloe Vera plant in my house. On one of such visits, my camera was ready

Bird

The bright colors on this bird adds to the beauty of nature and the validity of it’s intelligent design.

The Village Weaver

A location in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many nests hanging from one tree. Nests are large and coarsely structured, made from woven grass and leaf strips, with a downward-facing entrance and hanging from tree branches. Inhabitant species form large noisy colonies.

Suspect: The Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus

A village weaver
A Village Weaver, also called Black-headed Weaver

Weaver

AGRICULTURAL IMPORTANCE

The Village Weaver feeds primarily on seeds and grains, making them agricultural crop pests. However, they make up for some of the damage by feeding alternatively or additionally on insects, which may be agricultural crop insect pests.

They don’t just shoplift. At least they pay for half of their shopping 😀

Passerine Expression

Bird pose: Three toes forward, two toes back, head to the right :-D
Bird pose: Three toes forward, two toes back, head to the right 😀

More than half of all bird species are known as Passerine birds, or quite self-explanatorily, Perching birds.
As exemplified by this bird, their toe arrangement (three pointing forward and one back) facilitates perching, thus the name.

Birds

The challenge now lies in identifying the bird species captured here. Any Ornithologists?