Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Birds

I'd like to share some new birds I've seen on this trip. If you thought birds are boring, guess what? You're wrong!

(all of the photos are from the Internet) 

The Frigate Bird! These guys are huge - wingspans of up to seven feet. They have the highest wingspan-to-body weight ratio of any bird, which means they can stay aloft for up to a week! They can't walk, they can't swim, and they can't take off from water, so the Frigate Birds have to land on treetops and clifftops when they want to take a break.

These fellows are extremely fast and agile. They primarily feed by swooping down and plucking fish off the ocean's surface. I think it's fascinating that they do this, but could never become airborne again if they screwed up and caught a wing in the water or something. Would they just die? That way of life would be like humans bungee jumping over lava to pluck burgers out of it for lunch.

They also feed by chasing down other birds and forcing them to regurgitate their food, then diving down and catching the puke in their mouths before it hits the water.

The Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo! It is only found on this island. It hunts geckos. You should see it scampering around on the ground, peering up the trees with its big red beady eyes. I've never seen a bird hunt another animal like that. It looks very reptilian. 

Cuckoos have soft feathers that get soggy in the rain, so they have to stand in the wind and air them out to dry every morning after the nightly cloudbursts. 

This type of cuckoo doesn't sneak its eggs into other birds' nests. 

The Antillean Palm Swift!

I'm sure there are distinctive and miraculous facts about this bird, but I don't know any. All I know is that they're exceptionally sleek and beautiful and have a wonderful name.

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