The Birds

  • Ducks: Ducks live mainly in the water. They can be found in both salt and freshwater. Ducks eat worms, grass, water plants, small fish, and small amphibians. Male ducks are generally more colorful than female ducks. Ducks in the more northern climates migrate to the south in the winter. Ducks generally have long necks and broad bills. They are very fast flyers.
  • Geese: Geese are related to ducks and swans. Like ducks and swans, they have long necks and broad bills. A group of geese is called a gaggle. Geese often fly in a v-formation. They form monogamous relationships their whole lives. Geese are either gray, black, or white in color. Canadian geese are some of the most commonly hunted geese in North America.
  • Pheasants: Male pheasants are usually brightly colored and have wattles and long tails. Males do not help care for the young. Pheasants typically eat seeds and insects. Pheasants originally hail from Asia, but the common pheasant can be found in most parts of the world. The common pheasants are often found in farms and the more colorful pheasants, such as the golden pheasant are often found in zoos.
  • Partridges: Partridges are medium-sized birds that are often eaten as game. They do not migrate. They are native to the grassy prairies of Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Because they are such popular game birds, they have been released in many other parts of the world, especially North America, and formed their own populations there. They are often found resting on farmland. Pheasants place their nests on the ground. They eat a diet consisting of seeds and insects.
  • Quails: Quails are raised in farms for eggs and meat. They are also a popular game bird, and have often been released into the wild to form their own populations. There is a danger to eating wild quails, as they enjoy eating hemlock, which builds up a poisonous toxin in their body. A group of quails can be called a flock, covey, or bevy.
  • Divers: Divers are amazing swimmers, but unable to walk on land. They have dagger-like beaks, long, thin bodies, long necks and long, narrow wings. Their legs are small and set further back on their body. Divers are migratory. They have their young in freshwater areas in the spring, but move to the sea area in the winter. Three of the most common divers seen in the UK are the black-throated diver, the great northern diver, and the red-throated diver.
  • Albatrosses: Albatrosses are large birds who live in oceanic areas. They are especially common in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean. They are some of the largest flying birds and have a wingspan of up to 12 feet across. They eat fish, squid, and krill. They either dive for food or scavenge from the shores. They are monogamous for life, and often nest on remote islands.
  • Shearwaters: Shearwater birds are medium-sized with long wings. They prefer temperate or cold waters. They are called shearwater because when they fly they tend to fly close to the water and “shear” the waves. They are some of the most migratory animals, traveling thousands of miles in one year. Shearwaters also live for a long time, sometimes as long as 55 years.
  • Petrels: Petrels are named after Saint Peter, as they fly so low to the water that they seem to walk on the water. They live in ocean areas. The Antarctic Petrel is a dark brown and white petrel. Storm petrels have a unique fluttering style of flying. Giant species live mainly in the Southern Hemisphere and are very aggressive predators and scavengers.
  • Bitterns: Bitterns are similar to herons, but have shorter, thicker necks. They like to live among the reeds and other marshy areas. Bitterns dine upon amphibians, reptiles, insects, and small fish. They fly with their necks retracted. Bitterns are quite shy, but you can hear their loud booming voice at dusk or night. This loud sound is meant to scare predators away.
  • Herons: Herons have long legs, necks, and beaks. The Goliath heron can stand up to five feet tall. Herons can put their necks into an s-shape. They live on every continent except Antarctica. They live in just about every climate except very tall mountains, deserts, and extreme cold. Although they don’t swim, they can always be found in water searching for food.
  • Egrets: An egret is a large white bird, similar in appearance to herons. Egrets were once in danger of becoming extinct due to the popularity of their feathers in hat-making. They live in both salt and freshwater marshes. Their bills are long, pointed, and yellow. Their stick nests are placed in tall trees, away from natural mammalian predators such as raccoons.
  • Buzzards: The buzzard is a medium-sized bird of prey that lives in Europe and Asia. They are non-migratory birds, except for those buzzards that reside in the much colder norther climates during the warmer months. The color of the buzzard’s feathers can range from white to black, with most having brown in between. Pairs mate for life and they are very territorial.
  • Kites: Kites have angled wings and split tails. They are known for their sharp whinnying bird call. Although they are birds of prey, they are more likely to scavenge. They eat a wide variety of food, including mice, voles, shrews, young hares, rabbits, reptiles, and amphibians. Their nests are made of twigs lined with grass and placed high up in trees.
  • Falcons: Falcons are a bird of prey with thin, pointed wings. They live everywhere except the Antarctic. They can fly very fast and change direction quickly. Falcons kill with their beaks, using a jagged edge on the side of their beak. Their vision is more than twice what a human can see. Peregrine falcons dive at a speed of 200 miles per hour, making them the fastest species on Earth.
  • Plovers: Plovers are wading birds with short beaks. They are found in most places of the world except the Sahara and the polar regions. They hunt by sight, looking for insects, invertebrates, and worms. They hunt using a run-and-pause technique. They also use a ploy called “false brooding” wherein they move around pretending to nest in order to confuse predators and keep them away from their eggs.
  • Lapwings: Lapwings are known for their slow, irregular flapping of wings and shrill, wailing cry. It is highly migratory, and travels by day in large groups. It likes to lay its eggs on farmland and other short grassy areas. It is very protective of its young and makes loud, aggressive noises when approached by other creatures. Lapwings like to live in large flocks.
  • Sandpipers: Sandpipers are wader birds who live along the shore. They like to eat worms and other invertebrates they pick out of the sand and mud. They have very narrow beaks which have the ability to sense food nearby as they poke through the ground. They usually have dull colors such as brown, gray or mottled patterns. Nests consist of simple holes in the ground.
  • Gulls: Gulls are medium to large seabirds. They are usually some combination of black or white. They have a loud squawking call and webbed feet. They like to eat crabs or small fish, but also scavenge from remains. Gulls live in large groups called colonies and lay their eggs on vegetation. Gulls have a very complex social structure and they often use tools to accomplish their goals.
  • Terns: Terns are seabirds that commonly live near seawater, rivers or wetlands. They can be found all over the world. Terns are slender and light-weight. They have long, forked tails and small legs. They live for a long time and have very few natural predators. Most terns lay their eggs in sandy or rocky soil by the shore. The majority of terns dive in order to find food. Fish is their favorite food, but they also eat crab, lizards, baby sea turtles, grasshoppers and snakes.