Friday, July 28, 2017

How To Raise DUCKS - Simple Tips To Help You In Keeping Ducks Whatever Your Reason Is

Raising ducks has become more popular. Ducks can bring interest and variety to your life. Ducks can be a good source of income too. People raise them for meat or for eggs. Whatever your reasons, this guide will help you learn how to raise ducks.

(Cairina moschata) with wings outstretched
(Cairina moschata) with wings outstretched (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The first thing to consider is your duck breed. Peking ducks are the most popular. People often visualize this white duck as the stereotype whenever they plan on raising ducks. However, there are other duck breeds that you can prefer. Another breed, the Rouen duck breed is also popular. The Muscovy duck is a good choice for pasture. Ornamental duck breeds like Wood Ducks and Mandarin Ducks are also good choices. You can always check a good guide on how to raise ducks whenever you encounter any issues.

Incubating and brooding your own duck eggs and ducklings can be considered as a start. People often use a broody chicken to hatch their duck eggs while others use incubators; the choice is yours. If you prefer artificial incubation, you may use incubators that does not require manual turning of eggs. You can choose hens if you choose to use chicken incubation as they make excellent mothers. A good choice is the Silkie breed.

Duck eggs may take about 28-30 days to hatch. They hatch longer than chickens. Other breeds like the Muscovy duck, may take up to 35 days before the eggs begin hatching.

Another important aspect on how to raise ducks is brooding. As soon as the ducklings hatch, they should be placed in a brooder. If you are using the chicken brooding method, however, the hen will do the job. Put a soft litter and make sure that the duck brooder is clean and dry. You can use wood shavings or corncob for your litter. Put a 250-watt lamp to ensure that your ducklings are getting adequate heat. About 90 degrees Fahrenheit temperature should be maintained; it should be decreased by 5 degrees on the succeeding weeks.

Chick feeds can be use as an alternative when feeding your ducklings. They are high in protein and will aid the growth of your ducks. Once they grow, you can use grower feeds for chicken. You can use an ordinary poultry waterer for their water. But make sure that the ducklings can dip their entire head and beak into it. Ducks need plenty of fresh, clean water just like any other waterfowls.
Ponds and pools are not often necessary but make sure that you put a place to keep their heads wet. If you are using a chicken coop to raise your ducks, make sure that there is plenty of space for them to roam. Brooding ducklings need about a half of a square foot. This should be doubled as they grow older.

Now you know how to raise ducks. Raising ducks can be hard but is very rewarding.

    By Mary Louise
    Are you looking for more tips on raising ducks? If you think you still need guidance on where to start, consulting existing duck owners and farmers will certainly be a big help. If you would like to learn more about raising ducks correctly, click here: http://www.howtoraiseducks.com.
    Don't forget to claim your FREE "5 Essential Tips That Duck Owners Should Know To Start Raising Ducks!" eReport!
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blue And Gold MACAWS, Also Known As ARA Ararauna

Also called blue and yellow sometimes, are about 34 to 36 inches in length. The beak and feet are black, naked white check patches, that become rosy at times, because they can blush, and even feel warmer in the face at that time. They have black feather lines on the bare white skin, that is bordered with more black feathers around the chin, as a young macaw matures these chin feathers descend future down making a much wider band.

English: Blue-and-gold Macaw (Ara ararauna) on...
Blue-and-gold Macaw (Ara ararauna) on left and
Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus) on right. At Jurong Bird Park, Singapore.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
The eyes also lighten with age from dark to gray and then to a whitish yellow. Forehead is green and runs into the rich turquoise blue (some almost look cobalt blue) of the head, down the back, wing tops, and top side of tail. With a rich yellow almost orange gold on some, running down under the chin, chest, and undersides of wings, tail, under covert same but laced with blue. One thing unique to the Blue and Gold is the scent they can give off at will (smells like fresh sun shine and light cologne) if you have a Blue and Gold than you know what I'm talking about. Anyone else would think you're making it up, Diane from Country Boy Cages once said she wished she could bottle that scent.

They talk exceptionally well, often before being weaned. Macaws often make up there own phrases from what they have heard. We are always telling our dogs to get off the porch, and of course the macaws say it too! Even getting which name goes with the right dog (pretty smart) "Turkey" (my pet macaw) will say a persons name that she knows in place of the dogs name, like: "Lisa get off the porch" followed by a hardy laugh, because she knows she made it up herself and it's funny. Be careful what you say in front of them, don't assume if your not talking to them directly that they don't hear it, only to repeat it some where down the road when you least expect it. A friend and I attended quite a few Fairs where someone had taught a young Blue and Gold Macaw to sing "Jingle Bells", around the holiday's it was just precious, after months of this until the bird was sold it sang "Jingle Bells". 

Please make sure what you teach your bird is something you would want to hear just in case it turns out to be the favored phrase or song. Our Macaws not only talk but will also say it in the very voice of person they learned it from, my friend will often think he is being called by me only to find out it's one of the Macaws or Cockatoos. Our dogs when in the back yard will seldom come when we call them, because the Macaws just wear them out calling them by name, getting them to go back and forth all day. Macaws are intelligent and very social creatures they can be quite LOUD at times, and quite demanding, but I couldn't imagine life without them.

If your thinking of getting a Macaw to match your living room, as a novelty, colorful display, or just because they talk, than you are getting one for all the wrong reasons. Put as much planning into getting a Macaw as you would if you were planning for a child. Actually that is how you should plan for any bird or pet for that matter.

Often people get a pet and let it have free range in the house, this is not good because what starts out cute or funny often does not stay that way because you are letting the bird make it's own fun, set boundaries, a well behaved pet is much more enjoyable to be around. My macaws when in my house are not destructive, but will tear up their own stuff, and they do know what NO means. Would you give a child a handful of colors in a room by him or herself with no guidance other than letting them know they are free to do what ever, and do you really expect them not to color those walls? And should you have the right to be mad? Or would you give the child an area in which they have guidance to express them self's freely, that would be acceptable for them to color? Well, do the same for your bird. Never hit your bird, this breaks the trust, besides there bones are more delicate being hollow making them lighter for flight. You are your pet birds flock, you are his or her family, you are the caretaker of his world please make it safe for your pet.

A Blue and Gold Macaw requires a large strong cage, no smaller than 2ft deep x 3ft wide x 3ft to 4ft high depending if it's on legs and or casters. Larger is always better when it comes to Macaws. This is where he will spend a lot of time when he can't be out and about with you, or supervised by you or a responsible person in your family. I have always recommended more than one cage for most birds. The reason being you can have an indoor and an outdoor cage for your Macaw, allowing him to experience the great outdoors or just plain breaking the mundane monotony of seeing the same thing day in and day out. My Macaws enjoy the family barbecue just not to close to the smoke and or flames, and yes when it cools they share in the feast. Remember he doesn't go to school, he doesn't go to work, he doesn't get to shop, he doesn't get to choose what he'd like out of the frig, but depends on you for everything.



If you've had a bad day you can't expect him to not be excited the moment you return home (he wants to be with the people he loves) so with a second cage you can give him new scenery to unwind from the day and you'll have the space you need to chill out kick off your shoes and enjoy his company later. After he's gotten loud out side over your return and the things he gets to see out side, he'll be much calmer and more enjoyable after that head ache The Blue & Gold Macaw is almost never a finicky eater if new foods have been offered, but he should have a base diet of seed, nuts, fresh fruit, and veggies, I cook most veggies into a corn bread that I serve daily. And I always cook corn on the cob because that inhibits that dreadfully toxic mold that usually begins undetected by the naked eye on raw corn and then has already reached the deadly stage when you can see it. Besides the fact that a cooked properly dried out corn cob makes for a great toy. In addition our birds like lean cooked meat (let me rephrase that by saying we give them lean cooked meat, because if they could get that fatty hamburger they'd go for it) and they do love the marrow from bones, including chicken! Mine love sea food and fresh fish, cooked of course. 

It has been noted in the wild when water levels drop and pools of water get smaller trapping fish and other crustaceans often you will see Macaws, sometimes even an entire flock, devouring the left behind goodies. My friend (from Peru) says my Macaws are big blue buzzards comes to food, and she has seen Macaws in the wild eating road kill. How dare her say that about my birds whom often share snacks with me, although I have caught them after the dogs food and or bones as well as the cat food, "Turkey" even says "um good" when she sees something she likes to eat.

Always change the water at least daily more often is so much better, especially because Macaws like to soak and wash their food in the water.

Toys are important to all birds from finches to Macaws, it gives them activities that are healthy for a happier more content pet, this is so necessary for their well-being. Macaws need to chew as most birds do, for one it wears down the beak, and they just plan like doing it. We provide ours with blocks of clean soft wood, in addition I use wooden perches not PVC, because I want them to enjoy it and not eat my furniture or remote control for the TV, and I give them spinach leaves to eat and tear up so they leave my house plants alone.

It is an old wives tale to believe your bird knows what is good for it, you must keep your pet from unhealthy, harmful, toxic, and life threatening things and or situations.

The Blue and Gold Macaws never fail to amuse or entertain, even though they are as all pets that are properly taken care of high maintenance. Gentle Giants as those of us that have them and know them well, big beak and even bigger heart! Majestic, magnificent, colorful, and just down right amazing creatures in their own right.

    By Lisa M Sweet
    Lisa Sweet has been breeding birds and working with animals for over 25 years. She has worked for a veterinarian and is still working towards more informed pet owners, so our feathered friends can be cared for just a little bit better. Please visit our website: http://www.sweetacrebirdfarm.com it is a website with a great wealth of information for anyone wanting to learn about exotic birds.

    Article Source: EzineArticles


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

PIGEONS - The Strong Fliers

Birds are a source of amusement for us. They fly in the air, have brighten colours that attract us towards them and they produce varieties of sounds that make our environment beautiful. Birds have a number of adaptations that enable them to survive in different types of habitats. They are cosmopolitan and are also beneficial to the human beings in a number of ways. Pigeon is one such bird which is not only beautiful in its look but is also a symbol of peace. Pigeon belongs to the phylum Chordata and class Aves. Its family is Columbidae. Pigeons and doves are responsible for comprising the family Columbidae with the order Columbiformes. There are about 300 species of passerines are known. In general speaking the doves and pigeons are used together for describing any of the birds. Columbidae is present throughout the world but the major species are present in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. The young pigeons are called as squabs.

Pigeons
Photo by jans canon 

Pigeons possess stout bodies with short necks, having slender bills and fleshy cere. The common species of pigeon generally available in the localities is the feral Rock Pigeon. Pigeons prefer to make their nests with the help of sticks and other debris which may be placed on the trees, ground and on the spaces of buildings depending upon the species. Pigeons lay one or two eggs at a time and both the parents participate in caring the young ones which leave the nest after 7 to 28 days after their birth. Pigeons feed on seeds, fruits and plants. Like other birds pigeons also produce crop milk which is secreted by the sloughing of fluid filled cells lining the crop. Both males and females are able to produce the crop milk for nourishing the young ones.

Morphology
Pigeons differ in body size according to the species. The largest species of pigeons are the crowned pigeons of New Guinea which are about the size of a turkey weighing about 2-4 kilograms. The smallest species are the ground doves of the genus Columbina which are almost equivalent to the size of the house sparrow and weighing about 22 grams. Taxonomically the smaller species are called as doves and the larger ones are called pigeons and there are no distinguishing features between the two. Pigeons have short bills and short legs. Head is also small with a compact body. Pigeons have large wings with strong wing muscles comprising about 31-40% of their total body weight. They are amongst the strongest flying birds. The plumage of the family is also variable. The species that feed on seeds are called as granivorous species and they have dull plumage while the species feeding on fruits are called frugivorous and they are brightly coloured. Pigeons may be sexually monochromatic or dichromatic. Apart from the bright colours pigeons also bear spotted patterns as well as other ornamentations. Pigeons lack gall bladder.

Distribution and Habitat
Pigeons are found all over the world except the Sahara desert, Antarctica, its surrounding islands and the high Arctic. The pigeon colonies are easily found around the major oceanic islands including Polynesia and Chatham islands in the Pacific, Mauritius, Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The pigeons are able to survive every type of habitat available on earth. The largest number of species is found in the tropical forests and the woodlands where are adapted to the arboreal, terrestrial and semi-terrestrial habitats. Pigeon species are also available in the temperate forests, savannas, grasslands, deserts, mangrove forests and even the barren lands. Some species have long natural ranges also. The largest range for any species of pigeon is that of the Rock pigeon. Rock pigeon species is naturally distributed from Britain and Ireland to northern Africa, across Europe, Arabia, Central Asia, India, the Himalayas and up into China and Mongolia. Domestication has a great role in the spread of this species. Presently the species is found across major areas of North America, Japan and Australia. Some species have also changed their natural habitats because of the activities of human beings also.

Diet
Fruits and seeds are the major food constituents of pigeons. The family can be divided into the seed eating members or the granivorous species coming under the subfamily Columbinae and those which prefer to feed on the fruits or the frugivorous species forming the other four subfamilies. Granivorous species particularly feed on the seeds present on the ground and the frugivorous species feeding on fruits tend to feed on the trees. Both types of species have different morphological adaptations that can be helpful in distinguishing the two. Gizzard walls are thick in the granivorous species while it is thin in the frugivorous species. Frugivorous species have short intestines while the seed eating species have long intestines. Frugivores are capable of clinging on the branches to reach the fruits. Apart from seeds and fruits species also take other type of materials also as a part of food. Some species particularly the quail doves and ground doves also feed on worms and insects. Atoll Fruit dove is specialized for feeding on insects and reptiles as a part of its food. Some species like the Orange dove, White crowned pigeons feed on snails, insects and moths.


Evolutionary Status
Columbidae is having no correlation with other bird families. The fossil records for the pigeon family is also very limited and only one can predict that they evolved from parrot like birds on the basis of their feeding habits. The family is further classified into five subfamilies but this demarcation is inappropriate. The DNA sequencing of the members of the pigeon family also show variations among the members and provide the clue about the inappropriate classification of the family.

Economic Importance
Pigeon and doves are consumed as food especially the stronger breast muscles are the perfect source of meat. They are relished by the people across the globe. In Europe the Wood pigeon is the game bird and helps in earning a good sum of money. The Rock pigeon which is basically domesticated for meat is now available in different breeds today which enhance its meat value. The Passenger pigeon has become extinct today as it was hunted by the humans for its meat on greater scale. The pigeons have also played a major role during the World War I and the II as the pigeons were decorated with the Dickin Medal for the people who have contributed their lives for the war. Pigeons are also considered holy in the Bible as they are the symbols of Holy Ghost in the New Testament and were also used as offerings in the olden times of the Bible. They are also used as the symbol of final assistance of the prophet in the Islam.

Conservation
Pigeons and doves have benefited human beings since time immemorial. Some species have come on the verge of extinction because of immense shooting. Two species of pigeons including the Dodo and the Passenger pigeons have become extinct today because of mass shooting. About 59 species of pigeons and dove are under the category of threatened species. The Polynesian ground dove is an exceptionally critically endangered species. Various schemes are under progress to save these endangered species from extinction.
We can conclude that pigeons are the beautiful birds which require our attention to save them from extinction.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MONSTER BIRDS Of The Americas

For most of modern human's existence, say over the past 50,000 to 100,000 years, if we saw something fly under its own power, it was a bird, a bat or an insect - maybe a 'flying' fish or 'flying' fox if you want to stretch things a bit. Relatively few of these feature prominently in any culture's mythology. Bats might have an association with vampires, but your average run-of-the-mill garden variety bird is usually taken for granted - unless they are monstrous in size and like humans for dinner.

If there's nearly one thing universal in Native American mythology it is giant birds, monster birds, even the Thunderbird (which has been adopted as a brand name for many products not to mention the name of a TV show with associated spin-off motion pictures). Now apart from the actual observations of these winged monstrosities, there's nothing all that unusual about giant flying creatures in mythology. What sets these 'birds' apart is that they often like to snack on the natives - as takeaways, not dine in. Is there any natural terrestrial explanation for birds carrying away humans, like a crow picking up a kernel of corn? Or, might one have to resort to another, more unnatural and perhaps extraterrestrial explanation?

English: Piasa Bird on cliffs NW of Alton, IL....
Piasa Bird on cliffs NW of Alton, IL.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)

Mythological Monster 'Birds' of the Americas

Dragons: While primarily connected with the Old World (Europe, the Far East, etc.), dragons have some, albeit lesser known connection in the New World of the Americas, perhaps a bit more in the guise of serpents, that is taking on a serpentine appearance. This is most notably so with respect to that famous feathered serpent (sounds more like a bird actually) Quetzalcoatl, a central Aztec deity, but noted as well in Mayan culture and that other, and mysterious initial Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmecs.

However, we do have the Piasa Bird which is depicted as a dragon in a Native American Indian mural above the Mississippi River near modern Alton, Illinois. It's thought that the originals were done by the Cahokia Indians way before any white settlers arrived in their territory. Their pictographs of animals, birds such as the falcon, bird-men and serpents (monstrous snakes) were common, as was the Thunderbird icon. According to a local professor living in the area in the 1830's, John Russell, the Piasa Bird depicted in the mural was a monstrous bird that inhabited the area and attacked and ate the locals that inhabited various Indian villages in the area. Apparently it got a taste for human flesh after scavenging human carrion (corpses).

Thunderbirds & Related: These beasties are nearly universal in Native American Indian mythology, and what's more they carry many similar features. They tend to be very large birds that are seen as the personification of thunder (the beating of their wings) and lightning and all things stormy; a sort of Zeus or Thor but with wings, talons, a beak and feathers. The Native Americans believed that the giant Thunderbird could shoot lightning from its eyes. Say what? Even odder is that the Thunderbird often has teeth in its beak. We've all heard the phrase "rare as hen's teeth" - well that's because modern birds are toothless.

Thunderbirds were also associated with the Great Spirits so common in Indian lore. They were servants of these deities and apparently acted as messenger-boys (sorry, messenger-birds) - a sort of extra-large carrier pigeon - carrying communications between these various Great Spirits. Thunderbirds were associated with the weather as we've seen, and also with water. Now an interesting parallel is that dragons in the Old World are often viewed as go-betweens between the gods and humanity (sort of again like carrier pigeons) and their having some control over the weather and the waters was a common feature as well.

So, this mythological monster bird is common throughout Indian legends. Actually in one case there was a Thunderbird that resembled a giant eagle that was large enough, and powerful enough to carry a whale in its claws. Say what again? According to the Makah people of the Northwest Coast, a Thunderbird saved a village from famine by snatching up a whale from the Pacific Ocean and giving it to the community to feed off of, giving the village food lasting for many weeks. Would this be an American example of a case of manna from Heaven? Now no bird could actually carry even a small whale in its beak or talons, so there must be another explanation.

I've previously related how the Navajos have associated Ship Rock (or Shiprock) in New Mexico with a legend that says they were flown by a 'flying rock' (Ship Rock) provided by their Great Spirit to escape their enemies from up north. The Navajos, in other legends, have associated Ship Rock with the presence of 'Bird Monsters' or cliff monsters that preyed and feed on human Navajo and Zunis flesh. I wonder if that could be a garbled tale of UFO abduction.

Related are the tales of the Yaqui from around the Sonora region in NW Mexico. Yaqui legends tell of enormous birds around Skeleton Mountain that carried off men, women and children.

There's a petroglyph at Puerco Pueblo (or village) located in the Petrified Forest National Park of an enormous bird with a human suspended in the air by its beak. If we assume the human is of average height, say 5' 6" tall, then the bird, to scale, is roughly 13' 9" tall. That's one very big bird! The petroglyph was carved into stone many, many hundreds upon hundreds of years ago by the ancestors of the Hopis, maybe even by the lost Anasazis.

When it comes to the Thunderbirds, scholars of mythology strongly suggest that this creature is just the embellishment of the California condor, eagles, or the extinct teratorns. However, to my way of thinking, one doesn't usually associate birds with thunder and lightning (i.e. - storms). Now you may see birds riding the thermals that might precede a storm, but you don't tend to see birds out and about in stormy weather - they seek shelter from the elements too. Yet many tribes like the Lakota Sioux or the Ojibwa of the Great Lakes Region make the connection between these Thunderbirds and lightning in particular. Perhaps the association with something flying and thunder and lightning suggests something a bit more technological!

I mean something that can serve as a monster carrier pigeon between the gods, lift huge weights, abduct humans (recorded in many Indian legends) and shoot out lightning bolts doesn't sound like biology to me, rather more something artificial. Now perhaps all these legends of abducting and man-eating giant birds are nothing more than a rogue eagle or condor with too much testosterone in its system who, feeling threatened, attacked a lone Indian and like the fish that got away, the bird just grew and got embellished, and grew some more and got even more embellished until it reached ridiculous proportions and abilities. Well maybe.



Real Monster 'Birds' of the Americas


Pterosaurs and Pterodactyls: These beasties weren't really birds-of-a-feather, rather just winged and flying (or gliding) reptiles that belonged way back in fact to 'The Age of Reptiles' - the Mesozoic Era. The largest of these discovered (to date) was Quetzalcoatlus, named obviously after that Mesoamerican feathered serpent deity. Quetza-baby had a 36 to 40 foot wingspan, and just might have been able to snack on a human. However, pterosaurs and pterodactyls all went kaput by the end of the Mesozoic - Q-baby made it in fact through to the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 millions of years ago. Alas, that was at least 64 million years before anything resembling humans walked the planet as a food source. While Native Americans were probably aware of the fossils of these flying reptiles, they had nothing to fear from them in terms of being snack-food.

Terror Birds: Well, these terrors really existed in the Americas and for a while were thought to be contemporary with the earliest humans in the Americas. Though they survived and thrived in mainly South America, some made it across the Isthmus of Panama land bridge into Central and North America about 3 million years ago. The most recent of them is now thought to have gone extinct about 1.8 million years ago, well before humans arrived on the scene.

But even assuming humans and terror birds were contemporary, why the terror? Well, these crows-on-steroids were up to ten feet tall and could gallop after you at velocities up to some 37 miles per hour. Relatives of these monsters with equally large beaks and talons have been found in Texas and Florida, and presumable bridged the geographical gap in-between. So, should the natives have been afraid; very afraid? Well, in this case the top apex predators probably succumbed to being ultimately human prey since the terror birds, along with the rest of the North, Central and South American mega-fauna went extinct in pretty quick-smart fashion after humans appeared on the scene. Now humans, if contemporary, probably didn't engage in hand-to-wing combat with these ungodly raptors, but rather found their eggs as a handy-dandy breakfast food supplement to their gatherer nuts-and-berries fare. Alas, no baby terror birds hatchlings; ultimately no terror birds. In any event, terror birds were flightless, like the emus, cassowaries, the ostrich and kiwis, not to mention their extinct cousins the moa and dodos. Thus, terror birds don't fit our description of birds that fly and pluck humans off the ground and feel us to their young.



Giant Condors & Related: The Andean condor at 11 to 15 kg (24 - 33 pounds) is currently the Guinness Book of Records holder for being the America's largest flying feathered member of the avian clan, at least with respect to a roughly 10 to 12 foot wingspan. The California condor at 7 to 14 kg (15 to 31 pounds) comes a very close second with wingspans around ten feet. Then too there was the Pleistocene [Ice Age] teratorns weighing in at 15 kg to 23 kg (33 to 50 pounds), huge raptors resembling eagles with wingspans 12 to 17 feet across.

Overall the wandering albatross is on a par with the Andean condor for title of 'king of the wingspan' (up to 11 feet for the great albatrosses), but it isn't a common sight in North America - then or now. There are several North Pacific varieties which reach the western coast of North America, but because these are sea birds, feeding on seafood although scavenging carrion when on land (remote islands) for breeding purposes. The odds that Native American Indians would have noted the albatross as a regular part of their environment wouldn't have been common for other than those living right on the Pacific Ocean.

Now the sixty-four cent question is, can any one or more of the above account for eyewitness accounts of monster birds abducting their comrades in arms? Well any sane person would eliminate dragons and Thunderbirds - they are mythological and therefore don't exist. One cannot witness non-existence. Pterosaurs and pterodactyls were extinct long before humans were thought up in anyone's philosophy. Terror birds couldn't fly and probably weren't actually contemporary with humans in any event. Condors, while big, aren't big enough. I mean an average human should be large enough to punch a condor's lights right out, and certainly humans are too large to be carried across the condor's threshold.



Condors (Andean or Californian) are actually vultures and thus scavengers, feeding primarily on carrion, even though preferring large carcasses like those of cattle. It has to feed while on the ground, and often stuffs itself silly when it does come across a suitable meal that it can't, for a while, lift itself off the ground. This is hardly a bird likely to be the source of American Indian human-abducting mythology, although the bird certainly features in Native American mythology. However, as the condor is an endangered species, the bird had and has way more reason to fear the natives than the other way around.

The extinct teratorns however were contemporary with humans (Amerindians), but while large enough to cause more than sufficient trouble for a human infant, there's evidence to suggest that overall, the humans were probably more the hunters than the hunted when crunch came crunch.

However, even at a weight of fifty pounds and a wingspan of 17 feet, could a teratorn have actually picked up and carried away an adult human, with a weight say at least twice or thrice that of the raptor? Fossil evidence suggests that small mammals, even fish, and carrion were its usual means of sustenance. Since the Native Americans say it's so - at least according to their mythology - you have to ask yourself whether or not a 50 pound bird, who could obviously carry its own weight and probably a bit more through the air, could actually fly with a 100 to 150 pound payload? That's 150 to 200 pounds all up the bird is carrying. Now that's a pretty big ask.

Has anyone seen an owl or an eagle or other flying raptor carry off prey two to three times its own weight? Now it might be one thing for a very large bird to pick you up (especially if you're dead and not struggling) and carry you off while in contact with the ground, like the terror birds, at least for a short way since after all you're still very heavy compared to the bird. But it's quite other kettle of fish for a bird to pick you up and actually fly away with you without any leg and ground support at all. Flying (flapping wings) is very energy intensive at the best of times (we've all seen birds in gliding mode in order to conserve energy), far less trying to lift up and flap wings with twice or thrice its normal body weight to struggle with.

Now we've all seen wildlife documentaries showing a large carnivorous bird swooping low over the water and then grabbing an unsuspecting fish out of the water with its talons. Now that fish may even be as large and heavy as the bird itself, but the prey can't be that much larger and certainly not twice as large and heavy as the predator. The bird, so close to the water, can not afford to be dragged down by extra unmanageable weight into the water - then it's bye-bye birdie.

Moving back to the land, raptor birds can and do attack prey much larger than themselves. The bones of these large prey animals have been found in the raptor's nests or lairs. An eagle might attack a deer or fawn. The deer can't really defend itself very well out in the open. But that's not to say that the eagle can actually carry off the deer carcass whole, rather it's going to tear out chunks at a time and carry them take-away style back to the nest. If not feeding young, it just might dine in on the spot, only flapping away if threatened by the appearance of larger scavengers.

In human terms, a normal average fit human may be able to life twice its body weight but can't hardly be expected to run an obstacle course carrying it. Half a human's body weight maybe, but not twice far less thrice.

Now in more 'modern' times, there have been a few sightings of giant and other unknown birds - critters that fall within the realm of study called cryptozoology. Having looked over the 'modern' (1850 to date) cryptozoological literature, most sightings prove to be ordinary birds though perhaps viewed out of their normal territory and thus somewhat unfamiliar to the viewer. Most unexplained avian species remain unverified and usually too small to be the sort of critter we've been looking for. Sightings of monster birds, while they exist, have never yielded up the sort of data that would have confirmed their reality. No dung, no feathers, no carcass, no bones. Unknown monster birds, if they do still exist, are running out of habitat to hide in; in fact they probably have run out of viable environmental living space. If they haven't been confirmed by now they probably won't ever be. Besides, any unknown North American birds, monster or otherwise, would have long since been shot out of the sky by trigger-happy Americans.

Conclusions: No flying bird that is or was contemporary with humans (like the America Indian) was capable of lifting up and carrying off anything other than perhaps a small infant; certainly not adults. Flying birds are lightweights - they have to be in order to lift themselves up into the air. The largest of the predatory flightless birds (terror birds) were probably capable of running down, capturing, and lifting up human adults, but that's not what the legends describe. But to a technologically unsophisticated Native American, living hundreds to thousands of years ago, a UFO abduction event might only have made natural sense to them in a Thunderbird related scenario.

Further Readings about Monster Birds:

Allan, Tony; "Beasts of the air" (in); The Mythic Bestiary: The Illustrated Guide to the World's Most Fantastical Creatures; Duncan Baird Publishers, London; 2008; pages 14-53.
Bord, Colin & Bord, Janet; "Giant birds and birdmen" (in); Alien Animals: A Worldwide Investigation; Panther Books, London; Revised Edition 1985; pages 109-135.
Clark, Jerome & Coleman, Loren; "Things with wings" (in); Creatures of the Outer Edge; Warner Books, New York; 1978; pages 165-194.
Mackal, Roy P.; "'Alice in Wonderland' birds" (in); Searching for Hidden Animals: An Inquiry Into Zoological Mysteries; Doubleday & Company, New York; 1980; pages 99-128.
Mayor, Adrienne; Fossil Legends of the First Americans; Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey; 2005.
Science librarian; retired.

Monday, July 24, 2017

BIRD WATCHING Gifts for the Enthusiast

Bird Watching (magazine)
Bird Watching (magazine)
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Bird watching is a great hobby.  You get to meet people get close to nature and know the difference between each species. If you know someone who is into this, you could surprise them on their birthday by buying them a bird watching gift.

What do bird watching enthusiasts want as gifts? To answer that, you have to know what they bring a long every time they had out into the woods.

Probably the most affordable and easiest to get is a hat. This will prevent their hair from blocking the eyes at the same time prevent them from getting sun burn in the face.

The next item could be a pair of cargo pants that has a lot of pockets so they can put snacks and other items on their sides.

A bird watching vest is another cool item to get because it has more pockets than the cargo pants. They can put their mobile phone on one pocket, snacks, water, map, and insect repellant and more on the others making it within arm’s length instead of taking this out of the back pack.

If you that their back pack is already worn out, perhaps you get can them a new one. These come in different sizes and you don’t have to get a large one because these hobbyists are supposed to travel light.

Perhaps the most expensive thing to buy for the bird enthusiast is a pair of binoculars.  This is because of the lens that allows the user to see farther and wider. There are even some models that allow the person to interchange the lens while the more high tech ones allows you to see in the dark, capture photos and videos.

A bird watching journal is also a nice gift to get because the hobbyist records what was seen and how many they were. In the years ahead, they will surely write more birds down and they would need another booklet to record this down.

Another great idea is to get the person a one year subscription to a bird watching magazine. This is published monthly or on a quarterly basis and they will be able to see pictures of birds in places that they have never been before like the Antarctic, the Amazon, Africa and somewhere in the Atlantic or Pacific.

If you think that buying bird watching gear as a gift is all you can buy, think again. Those who can spare some cash can send the person off on a bird watching vacation perhaps up north in Canada or down to South America. You have to remember that there are hundreds of bird species and not all of them can live in the climate in the US.



So which one should you buy first? Well, you have to talk to the person first and see what they don’t have or where they have never gone. A small conversation will already give you several ideas and you just have to pick the right one that is within your budget and meaningful to the recipient.

Who knows? It’s possible that during the course of your shopping, you might learn to appreciate the hobby. Instead of supporting that person, you soon join them on excursions. That is perhaps the best bird watching gift to ever give anyone because you are able to do something together.