The Feathery Frontier: 40 Facts About Bird

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Nigel, the English-speaking African grey parrot once vanished from his owner's California home for 4 years, diminishing the owner’s hopes for his return. Amazingly, he not only did return but was able to speak Spanish when he showed up.

2. In order to discover that penguins sleep more deeply in the afternoon, scientists crept up on sleeping king penguins at different times of the day and poked them with a stick until they woke up.

3. Male penguins have been observed having sex with other male penguins, having sex with dead penguins and having sex with unwilling female penguins. When this was discovered in 1912, the findings were considered too lewd to be published.

4. A man named George Archibald spent several years acting as the mate of a female whooping crane - sleeping, dancing, and building nests with her - as part of an effort to save the species from extinction and it worked.

5. When a crow dies, the other crows investigate if there's a threat where the death occurred, so they can avoid it in the future.

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6Emperor penguin

Emperor penguin

The Emperor Penguin can dive to a depth of 1,850 feet (565 meters), which is deeper than any other bird and deeper than the operational range of most naval submarines.

7. City birds have learned to line their nests with cigarette butts in order to ward off parasites, as burnt nicotine works as an insecticide to ward off mites, lice, and fleas.

8. A pigeon named Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre for its service during World War I. Cher Ami delivered the S.O.S. message of a lost, encircled battalion despite being shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, covered in blood, and with a leg hanging only by a tendon.

9. Crows have different warning calls for different predators. They have one for cats, and one for hawks, and another for humans. In total they can have up to 250 different types of calls.

10. The Honeyguide birds are known to lead humans (and other large mammals) to beehives. Once the hive is broken and the human has removed the honey, the bird proceeds to feed on the beeswax and larvae.

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11Rodrigues Solitaire

Rodrigues Solitaire

An extinct bird named Rodrigues Solitaire had strange knob-like balls on its wings. These balls were used by the bird as a deadly weapon to defend territory and its mate. It also made a noise that sounded similar to thunder from a distance.

12. The Australian Night Parrot is one of the most elusive and mysterious bird in the world. Only 3 people have had a confirmed sighting in over a century.

13. In 1886, there was a humongous flock of the now extinct passenger pigeons spotted in Southern Ontario. The flock was a mile wide, 300 miles long, and took 14 hours to pass a single point. There were estimated to be something in excess of 3.5 billion birds in that flock.

14. Falcons on the Moroccan island of Mogador catch small birds and then proceed to remove their flight and tail feathers. They then imprison them in crevasses in the rocks to eat them later.

15. A type of seabird named Fulmar vomits a putrid and fishy smelling oil on its assailants in self-defense. Not only does it smell horrific, but it's lethal to predatory birds because it permanently glues their feathers together.

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16Radio antenna

Radio antenna

Millions of birds are killed each year by radio antennas. Changing the static red light to a blinking light can cut the death toll by up to 70%.

17. Most birds can’t move their eyes, which are not spherical like in mammals. They are also tetrachromatic, meaning they have 4 retinal cones (primary colors) versus 3 in humans, allowing most birds to see the UV spectrum and distinguish between colors that appear identical to humans.

18. When the African Grey parrot N'kisi first met Jane Goodall, he recognized her from a photograph and asked: "Got a chimp?" It is claimed that this was a possible display of a sense of humor.

19. Despite their looks, falcons are more closely related to parrots than they are to hawks and eagles.

20. A parrot named Einstein with a vocabulary of about 200 words once gave a TED talk.



Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death and consume the human equivalent of 140,000 calories per day to compensate. They enter a mini-hibernation mode (torpor) each night just to survive the suspension of calories.

22. Hummingbirds use spider silk to build their nests.

23. Not only are Gentoo penguins fiercely monogamous, they will violently banish any "cheaters" from their colonies.

24. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing at nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest penguin species is the Little Blue Penguin, which measures only about 16 inches tall.

25. In woodpeckers, most of the energy from pecking that reaches the brain is heat. A woodpecker pecks in short bursts to keep its brain from overheating.

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