Bird Facts

There are a number of facts about birds that are not known by most people, and yet speak eloquently of the planning and wisdom that is designed into the bird kingdom so that they can survive. Here are a few interesting ones:

»  Herons will place a feather or some other floating object on the water to attract the fish they eat.

»  Burrowing owls collect mammal dung and pave their nests and the surrounding area with it to attract dung beetles, one of their favorite foods.

»  Bird feathers are kept waterproof by oil which birds secrete from a gland under their tail.

»  Bird feathers are made of keratin, the same stuff that makes our nails and our hair.

»  In the winter, ptarmigan (the state bird of Alaska) grow special feathers on the tops and bottoms of their feet which act like snowshoes, allowing the bird to walk across the surface of soft snow.

»  Whooper, trumpeter and mute swans weigh as much as 35 pounds.

»  Vultures have been proven to fly at 37,000 feet.

»  Peregrine falcons have been clocked at 217 MPH in a dive.

»  Jays will sit on ant hills allowing the ants to douse them with formic acid, a natural pesticide which rids the birds of parasites.

»  Urban crows have been seen placing nuts in the middle of a road, waiting until cars have cracked them, then waiting until the light changed to retrieve their prize.

»  South America has 2,500 species of birds, as opposed to the 950 found in North America.

--Reference:  Dick E. Bird News, Jan/Feb 2005.

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