Monday, November 20, 2017

PAINTED BUNTING - Passerina Ciris

Painted Bunting - Passerina ciris



Saturday, November 18, 2017

The TOUCAN

Toucan Profile
Toucan - Photo by Eric Kilby
Indigenous to the lush South American tropical rain forests, the Toucan is recognized throughout the Americas, especially in the United States. Known for their unusual but unforgettably unique multi-colored beaks, the function still has scientists puzzled. Scientists and researchers have studied the different functions, but have not been successful in determining it purpose, although they have determined it is not used as a weapon nor is it used to gather food.

Toucans primarily feed on fruit while snacking on an occasional lizard or insect. The bodies are compact as the wings are too. Scientists have determined that the wings were built to fly shorter distances than other birds in the rainforest.

Toucans are often paired off or travel in small groups. Determining the sex of a toucan has been difficult as the male and female bodies are practically identical. Although some scientists believe the female beak is slightly larger and contains a square-like design.

Toucans have become one of the most popular birds in American popular culture. Many companies use it as a marketing tool as they have friendly dispositions, are aesthetically pleasing and embody a unique blend of characteristics. Moreover, they are starting to emerge as one of the most unique choices for bird pets. Additionally, they are often featured in various magazines, newspapers, advertisements, as well as many product lines such as in the Wild Jungle Chick greeting card line.

Vibrant colors, acumen, and the amusing traits these birds contain have made toucans one the most admired birds in both the rainforest and American pop culture.


By Karen Justice

Karen Justice, President of Wild Jungle Chick, founder of Tigre Lis Enterprises. Karen’s multi-talents in writing, painting, her zest for living, her lifetime passion for animals and her ability to see through failure has brought her continued success. Furthermore, her light-hearted nature, down to earth disposition, and even-keeled temperament has helped her remain grounded. Karen believes we are in this life together. What we do in some way affects others. She believes smiles are contagious and one of the nicest things we can do daily is to pass one on.
Article Source: EzineArticles



Friday, November 17, 2017

Fact Sheet: SWAINSONS TOUCAN - Ramphastos swainsonii

(Original Title: Rainforest Birds - Swainson's Toucan)

English: The Chestnut-mandibled Toucan or Swai...
The Chestnut-mandibled Toucan or Swainson’s Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) at Antwerp Zoo.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bird Name:
Swainson's Toucan

Latin Name:
Ramphastos swainsonii

Status:
Least Concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Ramphastidae
Genus: Ramphastos
Species: R. swainsonii

General Information:
The Swainson's Toucan, named after English ornithologist William Swainson, is a large near-passerine bird native to Central America and northern South America. It is the second largest of the 37 species of toucan, only slightly smaller than the Toco Toucan. It prefers to be solitary or in smaller groups as opposed to large flocks.

Physical Description:
The male is around 22 inches in length and weighs about 750 g. The female is slightly smaller at about 20.5 inches and 580 g, but otherwise alike in appearance to the male. The Swainson's Toucan's distinctive, brightly marked bill can grow up to 8 inches long. It is mostly black in appearance but has a bright yellow face and upper breast, with narrow white and broader red bands forming a border above its lower breast. Juveniles are of a sootier black color with duller plumage, especially with regard to the red border and yellow bib of its breast.

Diet:
The Swainson's Toucan feeds on fruits, which it plucks from branches with its long beak. It will also eat insects and lizards for protein, especially during the nesting period


Habitat:
These toucans occur in forests ranging from Honduras and Costa Rica down through northern Colombia. They are resident breeders in moist lowland forests, often nesting in tree cavities or old woodpecker's nests.

Reproduction:
Female Swainson's Toucans lays 2 - 4 eggs per clutch and will incubate them for a period of 14 - 15 days. After hatching, the young toucans are fed by both parents and fledge the nest after about 6 weeks.




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

PIGEON RACING - Early History

Carrier Pigeon
Carrier Pigeon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The racing Homer is a descendant of the Wild Rock Pigeon which once prominently populated the continents of Europe and Asia. Although the history of the racing pigeon is fragmented the history of pigeons as message carriers go back over 4,000 years.

One of the earliest recorded pieces of history on the bird and sport can be traced back to 1350 B.C. which shows an Egyptian Bas-relief releasing pigeons from their cages. By the middle of the twelfth century A.D., a pigeon post with postmasters and post offices were successfully being maintained by the Caliph of Baghdad. During the historic Olympics of the Golden Age of Greece, a well-developed system of pigeon communication was being used to rush news of the events to surrounding cities. Since pigeons were fast and able to cover large distances through all sorts of weather, leading newspapers of many countries used them to carry important news and stock exchange quotations.

Although pigeons were being used quite successfully to deliver messages, the ancients knew very little about breeding, but they were thoughtful enough to keep breeding the young of the pigeons whose homing instinct were more prominent than others. As progress in breeding developed, breeders began to look more closely at carriage form, feathers, eye care etc as well as speed, endurance, and vitality when breeding their stock. From this bird, the Antwerp and Liege types were developed in Belgium which are the ancestors of most of the present day homing pigeons.

Through the advances in breeding, pigeons began to be able to fly further and faster and by the eighteenth-century pigeon racing began to grow in popularity and was extended into Belgium. In 1818 the first classic concourse in Belgium was held in Toulouse, France with thousands of birds competing. This was the predecessor of modern-day concourses in which thousands of the best birds in several states and clubs compete in the U.S. Since the object of these concourses was to see whose pigeon returned home first, the name was shifted from the "carrier" pigeon to the "Homer".




Monday, November 13, 2017

An Insight to Pet Keeping - PIGEONS As a Case Study

Pigeon 7
Pigeon - Photo by Flickpicpete (Thanks for 740,000+ views) 
What are pets? As explained by the Oxford dictionary "an animal, a bird etc that you have at home for pleasure, rather than one that is kept for work or food". From the above definition, it will right to say: any animal that eats sleep and breeds inside your home can be referred to as a pet. These animals could be dogs, cats, monkeys, parrots, rodents like hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs etc; in extreme cases snakes, eagles, raccoons, swallows, crocodiles etc. however, I am here to discuss just one of these pets- PIGEONS

As you all know, pigeons belong to the avian family (birds). They can be referred to as social beings. But one stunning thing about these creatures is their humility and the general slogan for which they are noted for "live and let live" a term that sounds ironical to other community of animals, to me this is the quality that makes them the most unique creatures to ever walk the surface of the earth and fly over the skies, and as they flap their wings in humility and in unison spread peace, prosperity and love all over the length and breadth of their habitation.

Now, I got hooked on pigeons a couple of years back, 1996 to be precise, I was still in my early teens at that time, looking back now I find this experience very nostalgic each time I reminisce. Like I said earlier, I got to know about these loveable avian creatures through a friend through many years my senior, however, we were brought together as friends as a result of the common thing we shared: being the passion for pigeons. I visited his place regularly just to study the life pattern of these unique birds and each time I look at them, they got more endeared and fascinating they become to me and my longing to have my own community of pigeons increased, until I satisfied this desire by acquiring two sets of pigeons; two males and two females respectively from whom I built a community of pigeons so large, that I became the envy of many.

On the contrary, I am not writing this article to narrate my personal experiences as a former owner of these pets, rather to present to you a comprehensive documentary on how these animals live, eat, breed and interact with themselves as well as their owners, however, I will narrate most of my personal experiences with these birds. The community is made up of males and females, each male pigeon has a wife, funny it sounds but it is true, the get married just like we humans do, more so infidelity of either of the partners is intolerable. The widely held belief among them is one man, one wife, but most males stray occasionally and their target, young unattached females, another common feature in human societies, the difference being that divorce is the last thing to be considered in this very complex yet organized society; contrary to this assertion, in all my years of rearing these birds as pets I recorded a typical case of divorce. Please read on: a certain pigeon female to be precise was being ostracized for mistakenly falling into hot oil my mum left outside her kitchen, fortunately for the unfortunate pigeon, my senior sister saved it before it was fully consumed by the hot oil.

But with this development, this pigeon became a recluse of some sort as it was avoided and treated with disdain by other pigeons in the community. Now a certain male pigeon finding this situation rather appalling decided to do the unthinkable by interacting with the dejected pigeon a relationship that ended in both pigeons hooking up. Sadly, the female eloped with another male is thought to be finer which led to my banishing this heartless pigeon a decision my family supported, as everybody in my house from my father to my mum loved and adored these birds. So I banished the said pigeon for leaving not only the husband but also the kids it bore to be catered for by the male alone, a responsibility this male pigeon carried out effectively to the latter.

Now, pigeons are a very interesting lot to study, their complexity of character and simplicity is one quality hard to find in any other society of animals from avian to reptiles, from amphibians to Aquarian creatures and even mammals and apes, a community that after a male and a female pigeon hooks up, they start making plans for having a family. They commence mating like every other animal in their care, but one unique thing about how they mate is prolonged foreplay, incredible?! Well, pigeons are similar to humans in many aspects and this is one of them. They kiss with the male putting its head in between its wings occasionally, after this prolonged foreplay the female bends down for the normal copulation which takes place with the two birds joining their organs found at the base of their tails.


Gradually, the female's eggs are developed and ready to be laid, that is when the male starts getting the pen ready for the female to roost. The male starts picking up sticks, straw, feathers to make the place cozy for its wife. During this period it chaperons the wife from place to place and pecks it roughly at times on the neck signaling other males of the danger posed if they ever disturb the wife who is ready for roosting. The eggs after being laid, two maximum, and the two pigeons now take turns to sit on the eggs. Funny enough, they make a roaster for sitting on the eggs. The female sits on the eggs from night till morning, at about 12pm of the next day or so, it leaves for the male to take over from that time to maybe 6pm after which the female comes back and takes charge till the morning of the next day; while the male keeps watch at the entrance of the pen to ward off other impending males that might disturb the female while she sits on the eggs: as rearing a family is a collective responsibility between the male and female pigeons respectively.

Roosting might take an average of seventeen days depending on the prevailing conditions, immediately the eggs hatch into young pigeons; another roaster is drawn between the two parents. This time for feeding their young, with the male playing a dominant role, a role he plays till the female is ready to lay another set of eggs. Now while the female gets prepared for laying another set of eggs, the males continue to feed their young till they get ready for their first flight. Their feeding technique, another delight to watch, the parents after taking insufficient food and water, the two substances dissolve and serves as food to the young who get their nutrition by putting their tender beaks into the beaks of their parents who in turn send the food by vomiting it out into the bodies of these young ones.
Amazingly in all my life, I have never seen any animal be it mammal, reptile, or even birds that their young ones develop as rapid as young pigeons. I have seen young chickens, goats, cows etc tended by their mothers develop, but for pigeons, as soon as they are brought into the world, within a short period of time say two weeks it is ready to join other matured birds in the community for its first flight

Generally, pigeons live a life of equity. Every pigeon regardless of age or color is respected by the other. They do everything in common: from eating, taking their bath, flying and sleeping. Note here that the issue of borders and territory are respected. Every male point and mark out areas and spaces for domination. The other pigeons respect these boundaries and borders. In all my life I have never seen any community be it human, plant or animal as organized as this community. If we humans can take a clue from these creatures, the world will be a better place to live in; devoid of crime, corruption, and domination. As witnessed by the way in which big and strong nations bully the weak ones with many human societies going into extinction, but if we mimic these wonderful birds, the world would be a wonderful sphere where every race, tribe, and the region will live in equity, justice, peace, and prosperity. The world of pigeons!