Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family called Ciconiidae, make up the order Ciconiiformes. Ciconiiformes included a number of other families, such as herons and ibises, but those families have been moved to other orders. Storks dwell in many regions and tend to live in drier habitats than the related herons and ibises. Bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Many species are migratory. Most storks eat frogs, insects, small birds and small mammals. There are nineteen living species of storks in six genera. Various terms are used to refer to groups of storks, two used ones being a muster of storks and a phalanx of storks. Storks tend to use gliding flight, which conserves energy. Soaring requires thermal air currents. Ottomar Anschütz’s famous 1884 album of photographs of storks inspired the design of Otto Lilienthal's experimental gliders of the late nineteenth century. Storks are heavy, with wide wingspans: the marabou stork, with a wingspan of 3.2 m and weight up to 8 kg, joins the Andean condor in having the widest wingspan of all living land birds.
Their nests are very large and may be used for many years. Some nests have been known to grow to about three metres in depth. Storks were once thought to be monogamous, but this is only true, they may change mates after migrations, may migrate without a mate. Storks’ size, serial monogamy, faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to their prominence in mythology and culture. Storks are large to large waterbirds, they range in size from the marabou, which stands 152 cm tall and can weigh 8.9 kg, to the Abdim's stork, only 75 cm high and only weighs 1.3 kg. Their shape is superficially similar to the herons, with long legs and necks, but they are heavier-set. There is some sexual dimorphism in size, with males being up to 15% bigger than females in some species, but no difference in appearance; the only difference is in the colour of the iris of the two species in the genus Ephippiorhynchus. The bills of the storks are large to large, vary between the genera; the shape of the bills is linked to the diet of the different species.
The large bills of the Ciconia storks are the least specialised. Larger are the massive and upturned bills of the Ephippiorhynchus and the jabiru; these have evolved to hunt for fish in shallow water. Larger still are the massive daggers of the two adjutants and marabou, which are used to feed on carrion and in defence against other scavengers, as well as for taking other prey; the long, ibis-like downcurved bills of the Mycteria storks have sensitive tips that allow them to detect prey by touch where cloudy conditions would not allow them to see it. The most specialised bills of any storks are those of the two openbills, which as their name suggested is open in the middle when their bill is closed; these bills have evolved to help openbills feed on aquatic snails. Although it is sometimes reported that storks lack syrinxes and are mute, they do have syrinxes, are capable of making some sounds, although they do not do so often; the syrinxes of the storks are "variably degenerate" however, the syringeal membranes of some species are found between tracheal rings or cartilage, an unusual arrangement shared with the ovenbirds.
The storks have a nearly cosmopolitan distribution, being absent from the poles, most of North America and large parts of Australia, The centres of stork diversity are in tropical Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with eight and six breeding species respectively. Just three species are present in the New World: wood stork, maguari stork and jabiru, the tallest flying bird of the Americas. Two species and black stork, reach Europe and western temperate Asia, while one species, Oriental stork, reaches temperate areas of eastern Asia, one species, black-necked stork, is found in Australasia. Storks are more diverse and common in the tropics, the species that live in temperate climates for the most part migrate to avoid the worst of winter, they are diverse in their habitat requirements. Some species the Mycteria "wood storks" and Anastomus openbills, are dependent on water and aquatic prey, but many other species are far less dependent on this habitat type, although they will make use of it. Species like the marabou and Abdim's stork will be found foraging in open grasslands of savannah.
Preferred habitats include flooded grasslands, light woodland and paddyfields, wet meadows, river backwaters and ponds. Many species will select shallow pools when lakes or rivers are drying out, as they concentrate prey and make it harder for prey to escape. Less typical habitats include the dense temperate forests used by European black storks, or the rainforest habitat sought by Storm's stork in South East Asia, they avoid marine habitats, with the exception of the lesser adjutant, milky stork and wood stork, all of which forage in mangroves and estuarine mudflats. A number of species have adapted to modified human habitats, either for foraging or breeding. In the absence of persecution several species breed close to people, species such as the marabou and white stork will feed at landfill sites; the storks vary in their tendency towards migration. Temperate species like the white stork, black stork and Oriental stork
Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds
The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, or African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement is an independent international treaty developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme's Convention on Migratory Species. It was founded to coordinate efforts to conserve bird species migrating between European and African nations, its current scope stretches from the Arctic to South Africa, encompassing the Canadian archipelago and the Middle East as well as Europe and Africa; the agreement focuses on bird species that depend on wetlands for at least part of their lifecycle and cross international borders in their migration patterns. It covers 254 species; the Parties meet every few years. So far there have been seven meetings: 7–9 November 1999 in Cape Town, South Africa 25–27 September 2002 in Bonn, Germany 23–27 October 2005 in Dakar, Senegal 15–19 September 2008 in Antananarivo, Madagascar 14–18 May 2012 in La Rochelle, France 9-14 November 2015 in Bonn, Germany 4-8 December 2018 in Durban, South Africa The use of lead shot over wetlands has been banned by the signatories to the convention on account of the poisoning it causes.
Ramsar Convention AEWA Wings Over Wetlands Project World Migratory Bird Day CMS
The water kingfishers or Cerylinae are one of the three subfamilies of kingfishers, are known as the cerylid kingfishers. All six American species are in this subfamily; these are all specialist fish-eating species, unlike many representatives of the other two subfamilies, it is that they are all descended from fish-eating kingfishers which founded populations in the New World. It was believed that the entire group evolved in the Americas; the original ancestor evolved in Africa – at any rate in the Old World – and the Chloroceryle species are the youngest ones. Evidence from molecular phylogenetic studies suggests that the Cerylinae originated in Asia and have colonised the New World on two occasions: the first time was around 8 million years ago by the Chloroceryle and the second time was around 1.9 million years ago by the common ancestor of the ringed kingfisher and the belted kingfisher in the genus Megaceryle. The subfamily Cerylinae contains nine kingfisher species and is divided into three genera: Megaceryle - large crested kingfishers with a wide distribution in Africa and America.
The belted kingfisher, is the only kingfisher, widespread in North America, though the ringed kingfisher may be found as far north as Texas and Arizona Giant kingfisher Crested kingfisher Belted kingfisher Ringed kingfisher Ceryle - the single species is widespread in the warm regions of the Old World northwards to Turkey and China. Pied kingfisher Chloroceryle - the four American green kingfishers of tropical America Amazon kingfisher Green kingfisher Green-and-rufous kingfisher American pygmy kingfisher Fry, K & Fry, H. C.: Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers, new edition. Christopher Helm Publishers. ISBN 0-7136-5206-3 Moyle, Robert G.: A Molecular Phylogeny of Kingfishers With Insights into Early Biogeographic History. Auk 123: 487–499. HTML fulltext Water kingfisher videos on the Internet Bird Collection
The brown pelican is a North American bird of the pelican family, Pelecanidae. It is one of three pelican species found in the Americas and one of two that feed by diving in water, it is found on the Atlantic Coast from Nova Scotia to the mouth of the Amazon River, along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to northern Chile, including the Galapagos Islands. The nominate subspecies in its breeding plumage has a white head with a yellowish wash on the crown; the nape and neck are dark maroon–brown. The upper sides of the neck have white lines along the base of the gular pouch, the lower fore neck has a pale yellowish patch; the male and female are similar, but the female is smaller. The nonbreeding adult has a white neck; the pink skin around the eyes becomes gray in the nonbreeding season. It lacks any red hue, the pouch is olivaceous ochre-tinged and the legs are olivaceous gray to blackish-gray; the brown pelican feeds on fish, but eats amphibians and the eggs and nestlings of birds. It nests in colonies in secluded areas on islands, vegetated land among sand dunes, thickets of shrubs and trees, mangroves.
Females lay three oval, chalky white eggs. Incubation takes 28 to 30 days with both sexes sharing duties; the newly hatched chicks are pink, turning black within 4 to 14 days. About 63 days are needed for chicks to fledge. Six to 9 weeks after hatching, the juveniles leave the nest, gather into small groups known as pods; the brown pelican is the national bird of Saint Martin, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the official state bird of Louisiana. It has been rated as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it was listed under the United States Endangered Species Act from 1970 to 2009, as pesticides such as dieldrin and DDT threatened its future in the Southeastern United States and California. In 1972, the use of DDT was banned followed by the rest of the United States. Since the brown pelican's population has increased. In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt set aside the first National Wildlife Refuge, Florida's Pelican Island, to protect the species from hunters.
The brown pelican was described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in the 1766 12th edition of his Systema Naturae, where it was given the binomial name of Pelecanus occidentalis. It belongs to the New World clade of the genus Pelecanus. Five subspecies of the brown pelican are recognized: P. o. californicus – This subspecies breeds on the Pacific coast of California and Baja California, south to Jalisco. Its non-breeding range extends north along the Pacific coast to British Columbia, south to Guatemala, it is found in El Salvador. P. o. carolinensis – This subspecies breeds in the eastern United States from Maryland south along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts and south to Honduras and its Pacific coasts, Costa Rica, Panama. Its non-breeding range is from southern New York to Venezuela. P. o. occidentalis – This subspecies breeds in the Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Bahamas, along the Caribbean coast of the West Indies and Venezuela, up to Trinidad and Tobago. P. o. murphyi – This species is found from western Colombia to Ecuador, is a non-breeding visitor to northern Peru.
P. o. urinator – This subspecies is found on the Galapagos Islands. The brown pelican is part of a clade that includes the Peruvian pelican and the American white pelican; the Peruvian pelican was treated as a subspecies of the brown pelican, but is now considered a separate species on the basis of its much greater size, differences in bill color and plumage, a lack of hybridization between the forms despite a large range overlap. In contrast, hybridization between brown and white pelicans is possible. In 1931, James L. Peters separated the American white pelican and the brown pelican into monospecific subgenera; this separation was supported by Jean Dorst and Raoul J. Mougin in 1979; the spot-billed pelican and the pink-backed pelican were considered to be sister species by Andrew Elliott in 1992 and Joseph B. Nelson in 2005, the divergence between the brown and the Peruvian pelicans was found to be the most in the pelican family. In 1993, Paul Johnsgard hypothesized that the pelicans derived from a south Asian or African ancestor, spread through northern Asia and Australia before coming to North America.
This hypothesis would imply that, unless the brown pelican and the American white pelican resulted from multiple invasions of North America, they would be sister taxa. However, trees derived from genetic data disagree. In 1990, Charles Sibley and John E. Ahlquist's Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean tree based on DNA–DNA hybridization data found that the American white pelican, the pink-backed pelican, the great white pelican, the Australian pelican were sister species, the brown pelican was the most divergent of all; the brown pelican is the smallest of the nine pelican species, but is one of the larger seabirds in their range nonetheless. It has a wingspan of 2.03 to 2.28 m. The weight of adults can range from 2 to 5 kg, about half the weight of the other pelicans found in the Americas, the Peruvian and American white pelicans; the average weight in Florida of 47 females was 3.17 kg. Like all pelicans, it has a long bill, measuring 280 to 348 mm (11.0 to 13
The loons or divers are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia. All living species of loons are members of family Gaviidae and order Gaviiformes. Loons, which are the size of a large duck or a small goose, resemble these birds in shape when swimming. Like ducks and geese, but unlike coots and grebes, the loon's toes are connected by webbing; the loons may be confused with the cormorants, which are not too distant relatives of divers, like them are heavy-set birds whose bellies, unlike those of ducks and geese, are submerged when swimming. Loons in flight resemble plump geese with seagulls' wings that are small in proportion to their bulky bodies; the bird points its head upwards while swimming, but less so than cormorants. In flight, the head droops more than in similar aquatic birds. Male and female loons have identical plumage, patterned black-and-white in summer, with grey on the head and neck in some species. All have a white belly; this resembles many sea-ducks – notably the smaller goldeneyes – but is distinct from most cormorants, which have white feathers, if so as large rounded patches rather than delicate patterns.
All species of divers have a spear-shaped bill. Males are larger on average, but relative size is only apparent when the male and female are together. In winter, plumage is dark grey above, with some indistinct lighter mottling on the wings, a white chin and underside; the specific species can be distinguished by certain features, such as the size and colour of the head, neck and bill. But reliable identification of wintering divers is difficult for experts – as the smaller immature birds look similar to winter-plumage adults, making size an unreliable means of identification. Gaviiformes are among the few groups of birds in which the young moult into a second coat of down feathers after shedding the first one, rather than growing juvenile feathers with downy tips that wear off, as is typical in many birds; this trait is found in tubenoses and penguins, both relatives of the loons. Loons are excellent swimmers, using their feet to propel themselves under water. However, since their feet are located posteriorly on the body, loons have difficulty walking on land.
Thus, loons avoid coming to land, except when nesting or injured. Loons fly though they have high wing-loading, which complicates takeoff. Indeed, most species must run upwind across the water's surface with wings flapping to generate sufficient lift to take flight. Only the red-throated loon can take off from land. Once airborne, loons are capable of long flights during migration. Scientists from the U. S. Geological Survey, who have implanted satellite transmitters in some individuals, have recorded daily flights of up to 1078 km in a 24-hour period, which resulted from single movements. North European loons migrate via the South Baltic and directly over land to the Black Sea or Mediterranean. Loons can live as long as 30 years and can hold their breath for as long as 90 seconds while underwater. Loons find their prey by sight, they eat fish, supplemented with amphibians and similar mid-sized aquatic fauna. They have been noted to feed on crayfish, snails and leeches, they prefer clear lakes because they can more see their prey through the water.
The loon uses its pointy bill to grasp prey. They eat vertebrate prey headfirst to facilitate swallowing, swallow all their prey whole. To help digestion, loons swallow small pebbles from the bottoms of lakes. Similar to grit eaten by chickens, these gastroliths may assist the loon's gizzard in crushing the hard parts of the loon's food such as the exoskeletons of crustaceans and the bones of frogs and salamanders; the gastroliths may be involved in stomach cleaning as an aid to regurgitation of indigestible food parts. Loons may inadvertently ingest small lead pellets, released by anglers and hunters, that will contribute to lead poisoning and the loon's eventual death. Jurisdictions that have banned the use of lead shot and sinkers include but are not limited to Maine, New Hampshire, some areas of Massachusetts, Yellowstone National Park, Great Britain, Canada and Denmark. Loons nest during the summer on freshwater lakes and/or large ponds. Smaller bodies of water will only have one pair. Larger lakes may have more than one pair, with each pair occupying a section of the lake.
The red-throated loon, may nest colonially, several pairs close together, in small Arctic tarns and feed at sea or in larger lakes, ferrying the food in for the young. Loons mate on land on the future nest site, build their nests close to the water, preferring sites that are surrounded by water such as islands or emergent vegetation. Loons use a variety of materials to build their nests including aquatic vegetation, pine needles, grass and mud. Sometimes, nest material is lacking. Both male and female incubate jointly for 28 days. If the eggs are lost, the pair may re-nest in a different location. Since the nest is close to the water, rising water may induce the birds to move the nest upwards, over a meter. Despite the equal participation of the sexes in nest building and incubation, analysis has shown that males alone select the location of the nest; this pattern has the important consequence that male loons, but not females, establish significant si
Bird feet and legs
The anatomy of bird legs and feet is diverse, encompassing many accommodations to perform a wide variety of functions. Most birds are classified as digitigrade animals, meaning they walk on their toes, rather than the entire foot; some of the lower bones of the foot are fused to form the tarsometatarsus – a third segment of the leg, specific to birds. The upper bones of the foot, in turn, are fused with the tibia to form the tibiotarsus, as over time the centralia disappeared; the fibula reduced. The legs are attached to a strong assembly consisting of the pelvic girdle extensively fused with the uniform spinal bone called the synsacrum, built from some of the fused bones. Birds are digitigrade animals, which affects the structure of their leg skeleton, they use only their hindlimbs to walk. Their forelimbs evolved to become wings. Most bones of the avian foot are fused together or with other bones, having changed their function over time; some lower bones of the foot are fused to form the tarsometatarsus – a third segment of the leg specific to birds.
It consists of merged distals and metatarsals II, III and IV. Metatarsus I remains separated as a base of the first toe; the tarsometatarsus is the extended foot area. The foot's upper bones are fused with the tibia to form the tibiotarsus, while the centralia are absent; the anterior side of the dorsal end of the tibiotarsus contains a protruding enlargement called the cnemial crest. At the knee above the cnemial crest is the patella; some species do not have patellas, sometimes only a small extension of the cnemial crest. In grebes both a normal patella and an extension of the cnemial crest are found; the fibula is reduced and adheres extensively to the tibia reaching two-thirds of its length. Only penguins have full-length fibulae; the bird knee joint between the femur and tibia points is hidden within the feathers. The backward-pointing "heel", visible is a joint between the tibiotarsus and tarsometatarsus; the joint inside the tarsus occurs in some reptiles. It is worth noting here that the name "thick knee" of the members of the Burhinidae family is misnomer because their heels are large.
The chicks in the orders Coraciiformes and Piciformes have ankles covered by a patch of tough skins with tubercles known as the heel-pad. They use the heel-pad to shuffle inside the nest holes. Most birds have four toes three facing forward and one pointing backward. In a typical perching bird, they consist of 3, 4, 5 and 2 phalanges; some birds, like the sanderling, have only the forward-facing toes. Others, like the ostrich, have only two toes; the first digit, called the hallux, is homologous to the human big toe. The claws are located on the extreme phalanx of each toe, they consist of a horny keratinous podotheca, or sheath, are not part of the skeleton. The bird foot contains one or two metatarsals not fused in the tarsometatarsus; the legs are attached to a strong, lightweight assembly consisting of the pelvic girdle extensively fused with the uniform spinal bone called the synsacrum, specific to birds. The synsacrum is built from the lumbar fused with the sacral, some of the first sections of the caudal, sometimes the last one or two sections of the thoracic vertebrae, depending on species.
Except for those of ostriches and rheas, pubic bones do not connect to each other, easing egg-laying. Fusions of individual bones into strong, rigid structures are characteristic. Most major bird bones are extensively pneumatized, they contain many air pockets connected to the pulmonary air sacs of the respiratory system. Their spongy interior makes them strong relative to their mass; the number of pneumatic bones depends on the species. For example, in the long-tailed duck, the leg and wing bones are not pneumatic, in contrast with some of the other bones, while loonsand puffins have more massive skeletons with no aired bones; the flightless ostrich and emu have pneumatic femurs, so far this is the only known pneumatic bone in these birds except for the ostrich's cervical vertebrae. Fusions and pneumatic bones are some of the many adaptations of birds for flight. Most birds, except grebes, are digitigrade, not plantigrade. Chicks in the nest can use the entire foot with the heel on the ground. Loons tend to walk this way because their legs and pelvis are specialized for swimming.
They have a narrow pelvis, which moves the attachment point of the femur to the rear, their tibiotarsus is much longer than the femur. This shifts the feet behind the center of mass of the loon body, they walk by pushing themselves on their breasts. This position, however, is suitable for swimming because their feet are located at the rear like the propeller on a motorboat. Grebes and many other waterfowl have shorter femur and a more or less narrow pelvis, which gives the impression that their legs are attached to the rear as in loons; because avian forelimbs are wings, many forelimb functions are performed by hindlimbs. It has been proposed; some leg and foot functions, including conventional ones and those specific to birds, are: Locomotion Walking, running hopping, climbing (woodpecker