The Black-crowned Night Heron is a medium-sized heron found throughout a large part of the world, except in the coldest regions and Australasia.
These are 65 cm long and weighs 800 gm. They have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. Young birds are brown, flecked with white and grey. These are short-necked and stout herons.
These birds stand still at the water's edge and wait to ambush prey, mainly at night or early morning. They primarily eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs, aquatic insects, small mammals and small birds. During the day they rest in trees or bushes.
The Great Egret is a large bird with all white plumage that can reach 101 cm in height and weigh up to 950 g. It is only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Herons. Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet. It also has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.
The adult Little Egret is 55-65 cm long with an 88-106 cm wingspan. It weighs 350-550 grams. Its plumage is all white. It has long black legs with yellow feet and a slim black bill. In the breeding season, the adult has two long nape plumes and gauzy plumes on the back and breast. The bare skin between the bill and eyes becomes red or blue. Juveniles are similar to non-breeding adults but have duller legs and feet. Little Egrets are mostly silent but make various croaking and bubbling calls at their breeding colonies and produce a harsh alarm call when disturbed.
The Greater Flamingo is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is found in parts of Africa, southern Asia, and southern Europe. Some populations are short distance migrants, and sightings north of the breeding range are relatively frequent; however, given the species' popularity in captivity, whether or not these are truly wild individuals is a matter of some debate.
This is the largest species of flamingo, with 150 cm tall and weighing 5 kg. It is closely related to the American Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo.
The Eurasian wigeon is one of three species of wigeons. It is common and widespread within its range. It is 20 in long with a 31 in wingspan, and a weight of 1 kg. The breeding male has grey flanks and back, with a black rear end, a dark green speculum and a brilliant white patch on upper wings, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a pink breast, white belly, and a chestnut head with a creamy crown. In non-breeding plumage, the drake looks more like the female. The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female American wigeon. It can be distinguished from most other ducks, apart from American wigeon, on shape. However, that species has a paler head and white axillaries on its underwing. The female can be a rufous morph with a redder head, and a gray morph with a more gray head.
The Ruddy Shelduck is a bird of open country, and it will breed on cliffs, in burrows, tree holes or crevices distant from water, laying 6-16 creamy-white eggs, incubated for 30 days.
It is usually found in pairs or small groups and rarely forms large flocks. However, moulting and wintering gatherings on chosen lakes or slow rivers can be very large.
It is a distinctive species, 70 cm long with a 135 cm wingspan. It has orange-brown body plumage and a paler head. The wings are white with black flight feathers.
It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck. The male has a black ring at the bottom of the neck in the breeding season summer, and the female often has a white face patch.
The Mallard is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New-Zealand and Australia. This duck belongs to the waterfowl family.
The male birds have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are gregarious. This species is the ancestor of most breeds of domestic ducks.
The Mandarin Duck is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 50 cm long with a 75 cm wingspan.
The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and whiskers. The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange sails at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.
Unlike other species of ducks, most Mandarin drakes reunite with the females they mated with along with their offsprings after the eggs have hatched and even share scout duties in watching the ducklings closely. However, even with both parents securing the ducklings, most of them do not survive to adulthood.
The Muscovy Duck is a large duck which is native to Mexico and Central and South America. A small wild population reaches into the United States in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. There also are feral breeding populations in North America in and around public parks in nearly every state of the USA and in the Canadian provinces; feral populations also exist in Europe. Although the Muscovy Duck is a tropical bird, it adapts to icy and snowy conditions down to –12°C and below without ill effects.
All Muscovy Ducks have long claws on their feet and a wide flat tail. Male is about 86 cm long and weighs 7 kg, while the female is much smaller, at 64 cm in length and 4 kg in weight.
The wild Muscovy Duck is blackish, with large white wing patches. Domesticated birds may look similar; most are dark brown or black mixed with white, particularly on the head. Other colors such as lavender or all-white are also seen. Both male and female have a nude black-and-red or all-red face; the male also has pronounced caruncles at the base of the bill and a low erectile crest of feathers
The Common Pochard is a medium-sized diving duck.
The adult male has a long dark bill with a grey band, a red head and neck, a black breast, red eyes and a grey back. The adult female has a brown head and body and a narrower grey bill band. The triangular head shape is distinctive. Pochards are superficially similar to the closely related North American Redhead and Canvasback.
Their breeding habitat is marshes and lakes with a metre or more water depth. Pochards breed in much of temperate and northern Europe into Asia. They are migratory, and winter in the southern and west of Europe.
These are gregarious birds, forming large flocks in winter, often mixed with other diving ducks, such as Tufted Duck, which they are known to hybridise with.
These birds feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They eat aquatic plants with some molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish. They often feed at night, and will upend for food as well as the more characteristic diving.
In the British Isles, birds breed in eastern England and lowland Scotland, and in small numbers in Northern Ireland, with numbers increasing gradually. Large numbers overwinter in Great Britain, after retreating from Russia and Scandinavia.
The Mute Swan is a species of swan, and thus a member of the duck, goose and swan family. It is native to much of Europe and Asia, and (as a rare winter visitor) the far north of Africa. It is also an introduced species in North America, Australasia and southern Africa. The name 'mute' derives from it being less vocal than other swan species. Measuring 170 cm in length, this large swan is wholly white in plumage with an orange bill bordered with black. It is recognizable by its pronounced knob atop the bill.
Adults of this large swan range from 170 cm long with a 240 cm wingspan. They may stand over 120 cm tall on land. Males are larger than females and have a larger knob on their bill.
The Mute Swan is one of the heaviest flying birds, with males (known as cobs) averaging about 12 kg and the slightly smaller females (known as pens) weighing about 9 kg. Its size, orange-reddish bill and white plumage make this swan almost unmistakable at close quarters. Compared to the other Northern white swans, the Mute Swan can easily be distinguished by its curved neck and orange, black-knobbed bill. Unlike most other Northern swan species (who usually inhabit only pristine wetlands without regular human interference), the Mute Swan has, in some parts of the world, become habituated and nearly fearless towards humans. Such swans are often seen at close range in urban areas with bodies of water.
Young birds, called cygnets, are not the bright white of mature adults, and their bill is dull grayish-black, not orange, for the first year. The down may range from pure white to grey to buff, with grey/buff the most common. The white cygnets have a leucistic gene. All Mute Swans are white at maturity, though the feathers (particularly on the head and neck) are often stained orange-brown by iron and tannins in the water.
The Bar-headed Goose is a goose which breeds in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes and winters in South Asia, as far south as peninsular India. It lays three to eight eggs at a time in a ground nest.
The bird is pale grey and is easily distinguished from any of the other grey geese by the black bars on its head. It is also much paler than the other geese in this genus. In flight, its call is a typical goose honking. A mid-sized goose, it measures 80 cm in total length and weighs 3.5 kg
The greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the grey geese of the genus Anser. It has a rotund, bulky body, a thick and long neck, and a large head and bill. It has pink legs and feet, and an orange or pink bill.
The Common Coot is a member of the rail and crake bird family. The Australian subspecies is known as the Australian Coot whereas American sub species is known as American Coot.
The Coot breeds across much of the Old World on freshwater lakes and ponds. It occurs and breeds in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The species has recently expanded its range into New Zealand. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but migrates further south and west from much of Asia in winter as the waters freeze.
The Coot is 42 cm long, and is largely black except for the white facial shield. As a swimming species, the Common Coot has partial webbing on its long strong toes.
The juvenile is paler than the adult, has a whitish breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult black plumage develops when about 4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old.
The Coot is an omnivore, and will take a variety of small live prey including the eggs of other water birds, as well as algae, vegetation, seeds and fruit. It shows considerable variation in its feeding techniques, grazing on land or in the water. In the water it may upend in the fashion of a Mallard or dive in search of food.
The House Sparrow occurs naturally in most of Europe, the Mediterranean region, and much of Asia. It has also been intentionally or accidentally introduced to many parts of the world, making it the most widely distributed wild bird. It is strongly associated with human habitations, but it is not the only sparrow species found near houses. It is a small bird, with feathers mostly different shades of brown and grey.
This 14 to 16 cm long bird is abundant in temperate climates, but not universally common, and is scarce in many hilly districts. In cities, towns and villages, even around isolated farms, it can be the most abundant bird.
The male House Sparrow has a grey crown, cheeks and underparts, black on the throat, upper breast and between the bill and eyes. The bill in summer is blue-black, and the legs are brown. In winter the plumage is dulled by pale edgings, and the bill is yellowish brown. The female has no black on head or throat, nor a grey crown; her upperparts are streaked with brown. The juveniles are deeper brown, and the white is replaced by buff; the beak is dull yellow.
The House Sparrow is often confused with the smaller and more slender Tree Sparrow, which, however, has a chestnut and not grey crown, two distinct wing bars, and a black patch on each cheek.
The Great Tit is a passerine bird. It is a widespread and common species throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and Northern Asia, and parts of North Africa in any sort of woodland. It is generally resident, and most Great Tits do not migrate except in extremely harsh winters.
The Great Tit is a distinctive bird, with a black head and neck, prominent white cheeks, olive upperparts and yellow underparts, with some variation amongst the numerous subspecies. It is predominantly insectivorous in the summer, but will consume a wider range of food items in the winter months. Like all tits it is a cavity nester, usually nesting in a hole in a tree. The female lays around 12 eggs and incubates them alone, although both parents raise the chicks. In most years the pair will raise two broods. The nests may be raided by woodpeckers, squirrels and weasels and infested with fleas, and adults may be hunted by Sparrowhawks.
The Great Tit has adapted well to human changes in the environment and is a common and familiar bird in urban parks and gardens.
The European Starling is a passerine bird in the family starling. This species of starling is native to most of temperate Europe and western Asia. It is resident in southern and western Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in winter to these regions, and also further south to areas where it does not breed in Iberia and north Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, North America, and South Africa.
It is among the most familiar of birds in temperate regions. It is 25 cm long, with a wingspan of 45 cm and a weight of 90gm. The plumage is shiny black, glossed purple or green, and spangled with white, particularly strongly so in winter. Adult male European Starlings are less spotted below than adult females. The throat feathers are long and loose, and used as a signal in display. Juveniles are grey-brown, and by their first winter resemble adults though often retain some brown juvenile feathering especially on the head in the early part of the winter. The legs are stout, pinkish-red. The bill is narrow conical with a sharp tip; in summer, it is yellow in females, and yellow with a blue-grey base in males, while in winter, and in juveniles, it is black in both male and female.
Moulting occurs once a year, in late summer after the breeding season is finished; the fresh feathers are prominently tipped white [breast feathers] or buff [wing and back feathers]. The reduction in the spotting in the breeding season is achieved by the white feather tips largely wearing off. Starlings walk rather than hop. Their flight is quite strong and direct; they look triangular-winged and short-tailed in flight.
The Eurasian magpie is a resident breeding bird throughout Europe, much of Asia and northwest Africa.
The head, neck and breast are glossy black with a metallic green and violet sheen; the belly and scapulars (shoulder feathers) are pure white; the wings are black glossed with green or purple, and the primaries have white inner webs, conspicuous when the wing is open. The graduated tail is black, glossed with green and reddish purple. The legs and bill are black; the iris is dark brown. The plumage of the sexes is similar but females are slightly smaller.
The magpie is omnivorous, eating young birds and eggs, small mammals, insects, scraps and carrion, acorns, grain, and other vegetable substances.
The steppe eagle is about 32 in in length and has a wingspan of 7.1 ft. Females, weighing 4.9 kg are slightly larger than males
The steppe eagle breeds from Romania east through the south Russian and Central Asian steppes to Mongolia. The European and Central Asian birds winter in Africa, and the eastern birds in India. It lays 1–3 eggs in a stick nest in a tree. Throughout its range it favours open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah.
The Helmeted Guineafowl breeds in Africa, mainly south of the Sahara, and has been widely introduced into the West Indies, Brazil, Australia and southern France.
The Helmeted Guineafowl is a large 60 cm bird with a round body and small head. They weigh about 1.5 kg. The body plumage is gray-black spangled with white. Like other guineafowl, this species has an unfeathered head, in this case decorated with a dull yellow or reddish bony knob, and red and blue patches of skin. The wings are short and rounded, and the tail is also short. Various sub-species are proposed, differences in appearance being mostly a large variation in shape, size and colour of the casque and facial wattles.
The Indian Peafowl is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced into many parts of the world and feral populations exist in many introduced regions. The peacock is the national bird of India and is the largest Asian galliform. The species is found in dry semi-desert grasslands, scrub and deciduous forests. It forages and nests on the ground but roosts on top of trees. It eats seeds, insects, fruits, small mammals and reptiles. Females are about 86 cm long and weigh 5 kg, while males average at about 8 ft in full breeding plumage and weigh 6 kg.
The male is called a Peacock, the female a Peahen. The Indian Peacock has iridescent blue-green plumage. The upper tail coverts on its back are elongated and ornate with an eye at the end of each feather. These are the Peacocks display feathers. The female plumage is a mixture of dull green, grey and iridescent blue, with the greenish-grey predominating. In the breeding season, females stand apart by lacking the long tail feathers also known as train, and in the non-breeding season they can be distinguished from males by the green colour of the neck as opposed to the blue on the males.
The Eurasian Collared Dove is a species of dove native to Asia and Europe, but also found in North and South America.
It is a medium sized dove, similar in length to a Rock Pigeon but slimmer and longer-tailed, and slightly larger than the related Turtle Dove. It is 35 cm long from tip of beak to tip of tail, with a wingspan of 55 cm, and a weight of 250 gm. It is grey-buff to pinkish-grey overall, a little darker above than below, with a blue-grey under-wing patch. The tail feathers are grey-buff above, and dark grey tipped white below; the outer tail feathers also tipped whitish above. It has a black half-collar edged with white on its nape from which it gets its name. The short legs are red and the bill is black. The iris is red, but from a distance the eyes appear to be black, as the pupil is relatively large and only a narrow rim of reddish-brown iris can be seen around the black pupil. The eye is surrounded by a small area of bare skin, which is either white or yellow. The two sexes are virtually indistinguishable; juveniles differ in having a poorly developed collar, and a brown iris.
The Yellow-legged Gull is a large gull of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, which has only recently achieved wide recognition as a distinct species.
The breeding range is centered around the Mediterranean Sea. In North Africa it is common in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and increasing in places. Recent breeding has occurred in Libya and Egypt. In the Middle East a few breed in Israel and Syria with larger numbers in Cyprus and Turkey. In Europe there are colonies all along the Mediterranean coast, and also on the Atlantic islands and coasts north to Brittany and west to the Azores. It also breeds on the west side of the Black Sea; here it overlaps with the Caspian Gull but there is a difference in habitat, with the Yellow-legged Gull preferring sea cliffs and Caspian Gull on flatter shores. In recent decades birds have spread north into central and western Europe.
The Great Cormorant is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It is a large black bird. Weight is 4 kg and length 100 cm with wingspan around 150 cm. It has a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. Adults have white thigh patches in the breeding season.
The Great Cormorant breeds mainly on coasts, nesting on cliffs OR in trees. The Great Cormorant can dive to considerable depths, but often feeds in shallow water. It frequently brings prey to the surface. A wide variety of fish are taken. Cormorants are often noticed eating eels, but this may reflect the considerable time taken to subdue an eel and position it for swallowing.
It breeds from southeastern Europe through Asia and in Africa in swamps and shallow lakes. The great white pelican is a huge bird, with only the Dalmatian pelican averaging larger amongst the pelicans. The wingspan can range upto 12 ft, with the latter measurement the largest recorded among extant flying animals outside of the great albatrosses. The total length of the great white pelican can range upto 71 in, with the enormous bill comprising 18.5 in of that length.
The Ostrich is a large flightless bird native to Africa. It is the only living species of its family. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at maximum speeds of about 70 km/h [the top land speed of any bird]. The Ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest egg of any living bird [extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs].
The diet of the Ostrich mainly consists of plant matter, though it also eats insects. When threatened, the Ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground, or will run away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick from its powerful legs.
The Ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used as feather dusters. Its skin is used for leather products and its meat marketed commercially.
Ostriches usually weigh upto 130 kg with exceptional male Ostriches weighing up to 155kg. The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. However, the tail of one subspecies is buff. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female Ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The skin of the females neck and thighs is pinkish gray, while the male's is blue-gray, gray or pink dependent on subspecies.
The long neck and legs keep their head 6 to 9 ft above the ground, and their eyes are said to be the largest of any land vertebrate – 2.0 in in diameter; they can therefore perceive predators at a great distance. The eyes are shaded from sun light falling from above.