Interesting facts about birds

Isn’t it amazing how birds can be standing on the ground one minute, and then fly up into the air the next? If you watch closely, you’ll see that most birds bend down and then kind of jump into the air, while they start flapping their wings rapidly. Other birds run a few steps and then fly into the air, while flapping their wings.

Birds have two large muscles in each wing to help them fly and steer their way in the sky. Baby birds first have to develop those muscles before they learn to fly.

 

Migration preparation

There are about 4,000 different bird species that migrate between the northern and southern hemispheres every year. Birds have to prepare their bodies for these long journeys, during which they fly thousands of kilometres. Their bodies undergo slight transformations to adapt. They literally fatten themselves up by taking in more food than usual, to almost double their body weight. Their bodies will use up the fat reserves when they fly. Their sleeping patterns change too – one half of their brains will rest, while the other half will keep them in flight and aware of any possible danger.

 

Nesting instinct

We don’t celebrate nests nearly as much as we should. Think about it for a moment: a bird gets a few twigs and some grass, and then builds a nest without any plan – and he uses only his beak to do it. Once the structure is in place, the nest is lined with feathers and other material to make it warm enough for the eggs to hatch, and then comfy enough for the chicks. The nest has to be strong enough to hold the birds and their eggs, and keep them warm.

In some cases, like with weavers, if the female bird is not happy with the nest, she won’t lay her eggs in it. Other birds – like cuckoos – are brood parasites, meaning that they lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, who then unknowingly hatch their eggs for them and raise their chicks as well.

 

Feather formation

Feathers are made of the same material as our nails are made of – keratin. The colour of the feathers is determined either by the birds’ food or by the colour pigmentation in their bodies. One example is the pink colour of flamingos, caused by the plankton they eat. The soft feathers close to the bird’s body are called down, and they help to keep the bird warm.

 

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