7 Bizarre and Unusual Birds
Birds continue to remain among the most abundant and often the most incredible creatures in the world. They can be found virtually everywhere in the world, including some of the most inhospitable environments. Here, we have selected our choices for 7 Bizarre and Unusual Birds. We hope that you enjoy the article. Let us know what you think of it.
Northern Bald Ibis
Northern Bald Ibis Facts
- Above all, the quite distinctive Northern Bald Ibis ranks as one of the rarest and most endangered of all known migratory birds. This ranking occurs because experts know of only 500 wild individuals remaining.
- In addition, this animal remains the only species of ibis known to breed and nest along cliff ledges. All other known ibises have a distinctly different habit since they make their nests in trees.
- The species also once possessed a significantly greater natural range. While it once covered much of Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East, it now occupies only a fraction of that range.
- The IUCN lists the avian as Critically Endangered, due to its extremely limited population.
- Conservation efforts continue, yet its numbers continue to decline. The primary causes include habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Northern Bald Ibis Physical Description
While the distinctive Northern Bald Ibis has a moderate wingspan, sexual dimorphism remains present among the genders. Though males typically possess a larger wingspan of up to 53 in (135 cm), a female’s wingspan averages only 49 in (125 cm).
In addition, the males display a much larger beak, which actually serves a prominent purpose in sexual selection. Individuals also average about 2.9 lb (1.3 kg) in weight.
The plumage typically displays black, with violet and bronze-green iridescence. The legs grow shorter than many other ibises, yet powerful.
Its most noteworthy feature, however, remains the complete lack of feathers on the face and head.
Species: G. erimita
Northern Bald Ibis Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
As a result of its dwindling numbers, the Northern Bald Ibis now primarily appears in the wild in southern Morocco. One small population also still exists in Syria.
While other ibises breed and nest among trees, this species does so among cliff faces, specifically in arid regions. Yet this habitat requirement also increases its vulnerability.
It feeds only in dry, grazed areas, such as fallow fields and semi-arid steppes. It primarily consumes invertebrates and small mammals.
The species has a gregarious nature and lives in small groups or colonies. Pairing typically occurs between 3-5 years of age. These birds mate for life, and both genders share in raising the young.
The Northern Bald Ibis lives an average of 10-15 years in the wild.
- The Emu remains the largest species of flightless bird endemic to its range. It also ranks as the second tallest living variety of bird on earth.
- Three distinct subspecies of Emu exist, all common throughout most regions of Australia. Though flightless, it remains capable of running at high speeds. Its ground speed occasionally measures as fast as 31 mph (50 kph).
- It is also known for possessing great curiosity, often following other animals or humans. Curiously, it does not sleep continuously at night. Instead, it takes multiple short naps.
- Its legs are extremely powerful, and even allow it to occasionally rip through metal fences.
Emu Physical Characteristics
An adult Emu reaches about 4.3 ft (1.3 m) in height, at the shoulder. The long necks reach a height of as much as 6.2 ft (1.9 m).
Displaying a mild degree of sexual dimorphism, males of this animal grow slightly larger than females. A male Emu averages 81 lb (37 kg) in weight. Exceptional individuals sometimes weigh as much as 132 lb (60 kg).
The wings are vestigial and possess a claw at the tip, and the claws on the toes may be as long as 6 in (15 cm). Given the strength of the legs, these form an extremely dangerous weapon for defense.
Both the hearing and eyesight also remain exceptional, while the bill stays short and soft.
Species: D. novaeholiandiae
Emu Diet and Reproduction
The incredible Emu evolved as solely endemic to a particular swathe of Australia. It inhabits various types of habitat, however.
The Emu forages for food by day and eats both various plants and insects. Insect prey includes grasshoppers, crickets, and ants. It will also feed upon crops if it can reach them.
The bird also swallows small stones to aid in the digestion of the food. Individuals drink infrequently but will drink large amounts when they do drink.
The Emu typically breeds in May or June, and in this species, it is the female that pursues the male. Breeding pairs remain together for approximately 5 months.
Eggs are quite large, weighing as much as 2 lb (0.45 kg).
- The rather remarkable Kakapo also goes by several other common names. These include the night parrot and the owl parrot.
- This large, flightless bird also evolved as endemic to a highly restricted and rather isolated portion of the world.
- Sadly, this truly remarkable bird also now finds itself facing serious threats to its continued existence as a species.
- Its known population only totals 148 extant individuals, as of April 2018. For this reason, the IUCN now lists it as Critically Endangered.
- Its greatest threats include habitat loss, climate change, and also non-indigenous predators, such as cats, ferrets, rats, and stoats.
Kakapo Physical Description
The surprising Kakapo ranks as rather small, compared to some of the other flightless birds throughout the world.
In appearance, this fascinating avian resembles a rather rotund parrot. The species also presents a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism.
The larger males average about 4.4 lb (2 kg) in weight. Meanwhile, the smaller, and slightly less rotund, females only average about 3.3 lb (1.5 kg).
In coloring, the bird typically presents a combination of yellowish-green, mottled with brownish gray or black on the upper side.
The flank and breast also tend to have the same background colors, but the mottling consists of yellow.
Species: S. habroptila
Kakapo Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The rather incredible Kakapo evolved as native solely to what now comprises the island nation of New Zealand, near Australia. Currently, it only exists on three islands kept free of predators.
In its native habitat, the avian inhabits a multitude of habitats. These include forests, scrublands, grasslands, and also coastal areas.
Although is adapts well, it primarily lives and feeds in a nocturnal manner. During the day it prefers to roost under various forms of cover.
Although the Kakapo remains incapable of light, it is an accomplished climber. It uses this skill to find its food in the trees.
Unlike most other birds, this species remains entirely herbivorous. It usually feeds on a variety of seeds, leaves, fruits, and stems.
- The Cassowary is a genus of large flightless birds, with three species surviving today. The Southern Cassowary remains by far the most common of the three varieties.
- Among known similar birds, it ranks as the second heaviest, and third tallest. The birds generally remain reclusive, and highly elusive.
- The species most commonly remains well known for its ability to disappear into the rainforest when approached.
- Though it generally has a shy demeanor, if provoked it has the ability to inflict serious, possibly even fatal, injuries to humans.
Cassowary Physical Description
The amazing species displays sexual dimorphism. Among all three species of Cassowary, the female stays the larger of the genders. Males typically attain a maximum height of around 5.9 ft (1.8 m).
Yet females often reach a height of as much as 6.6 ft (2 m). Large females sometimes weigh as much as 129 lb (58.5 kg).
The feathers of females also generally appear more colorful than those of the males. The wings remain vestigial and extremely small. The legs of this bird develop as rather powerful. Individuals have the ability to run at speeds of as much as 31 mph (50 km/h).
It also has a long, sharp claw on the middle of each of the three toes. This sometimes grows as long as 5 in (12.6 cm).
Cassowary Habitat, Distribution, and Behavior
The Cassowary evolved as endemic to the extremely wet and humid rainforest. It occurs in New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and local islands.
It also has a tendency to wander into grasslands, savanna, and swampy regions in search of food. Except for mating season, the Cassowary usually lives as a solitary animal. Males appear to be highly territorial, and females seem to be less territorial.
The bird can deliver a serious, even fatal blow with this claw. Though attacks on humans rarely occur, there have been serious injuries, even fatalities reported.
The Cassowary is primarily frugivorous in its eating habits. Individuals will also supplement that with the occasional flower, snail, frog, rodent, etc.
- The Hoatzin represents a unique species of tropical bird and appears to also be endemic to a very specific type of habitat throughout its natural range.
- The extremely unusual bird also remains widely regarded as the most enigmatic of all known extant species of bird.
- It remains so distinct from any other recognized avian that scientists now classify it in its own separate family and suborder.
- The Hoatzin also has the well-deserved reputation of exuding a strong manure-like odor.
- There remains no clear picture of the evolutionary path of this animal to the present.
Hoatzin Physical Characteristics
In terms of general shape, the Hoatzin appears similar to the pheasant. The total body length averages roughly 26 in (65 cm), with no discernible sexual dimorphism.
The neck grows elongated, and the head stays relatively small. The face also appears devoid of feathers. The species also remains noted for its bright maroon colored eyes. Atop the head sits a large spiky crest.
The tail grows long and broad, while the wings and back typically show a dark shade of brown. The underside typically displays combinations of off-white and chestnut in color.
One unexplained evolutionary trait of the Hoatzin ranks as extremely unique. Though they disappear shortly after birth, the hatchlings are born with claws on their wing digits.
Species: O. hoazin
Hoatzin Behavior Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
In the Amazon Basin, the Hoatzin occurs in riparian forests, mangrove forests, and swamps. Elsewhere in South America, it also lives in the Orinoco Delta.
The Hoatzin feeds primarily on the leaves of plants native to its specific habitat, and also on the fruit and flowers occasionally.
Despite the relatively large wings, the bird is a poor flier. It also remains quite clumsy on the ground, moving awkwardly. The bird also possesses a generally mild temperament.
The species generally congregates in small colonies, and breeding occurs during the rainy season. The existence of the claws on the wings of the hatchlings has led many to believe they are descended from the Archaeopteryx, which disappeared around 150 million years ago.
There remains absolutely no evidence of that, however.
Blue Footed Booby
Blue Footed Booby Facts
- The distinctive Blue Footed Booby is a rather remarkable marine bird in the family Sulidae. This family holds a total of ten species of seabirds, many of which display unique blue feet. The males use those brilliant feet as a rather important display during mating rituals.
- The origin of the generic name booby presumably comes from the Spanish word for stupid. In ancient times, the various species became popular for their habit of landing on the decks of sailing vessels, where hungry sailors easily captured and ate them.
- Arguably, pretty feet but maybe not the smartest of birds.
Blue Footed Booby Physical Description
This interesting bird also displays sexual dimorphism in two ways. The blue coloring of the feet is much brighter in the males. The females also grow slightly larger in size.
An overall average wingspan for this seabird is about 32 in (81 cm) and individuals are also highly pointed in shape.
The body is primarily white, except for the neck and head which have light brown or tan streaks. Yet the wings are generally brown.
Another interesting feature is the eyes, which are a distinctive and remarkable yellow.
Class: AvesOrder: Suliformes
Species: S. nebouxii
Blue Footed Booby Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Blue Footed Booby is strictly a marine bird, only needing land for breeding and nesting, usually in colonies. It typically constructs its nest amid the rocks of shorelines.
This avian is native to the region of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Within that range, it nests on both the various tropical and subtropical islands and may live across a territory ranging from the Gulf of California, in North America, to Peru.
Roughly half of all pairs mate and nest on the Galapagos Islands.
Breeding occurs every 8-9 months, yet only 1-3 eggs are laid. The diet consists almost entirely of fish and individuals feed by diving, and sometimes even swimming, beneath the surface of the ocean to catch prey.
- In height, the incredible Rhea ranks as the third largest bird in the world, following only the ostrich and emu.
- Currently, only three extant species remain recognized by scientists. Formerly there were two, but scientists determined that a third existed.
- To of the three species have been listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, pending further evaluation of conservation efforts.
- The greatest threats these rather incredible flightless birds face consists of climate change and habitat loss.
Rhea Physical Description
The plumage of the Rhea is generally a combination of brown and gray. The animal has long, powerful legs, as well as long necks, similar to the ostrich.
Displaying moderate sexual dimorphism, the males are slightly larger than the females and may attain a height of as much as 67 inches (170 cm). In weight, some could be as much as 88 pounds (40 kg).
Distinguishing them from most birds, this animal has only three toes.
Rhea Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The amazing Rhea evolved as solely native to portions of South America. This area includes the countries of Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Paraguay.
The Rhea is primarily vegetarian, preferring leaves, seeds, plants, and roots. They will, however, also eat insects, small rodents, and reptiles.
Though the animal has shown itself to be adaptable, it prefers open grasslands for its habitat, ideally near large bodies of water.
The Rhea is generally a silent animal, except during the breeding time when the male attempts to attract a mate with a loud, booming call. The animals are polygamous, and the male may mate with anywhere from 2-12 females each season.
The eggs are large in size, and clutches may number 10-60 eggs at a time. After hatching, the young reach adult size within six months, but will not breed until they are at least two years old.
7 Bizarre and Unusual Birds
The endless variety and sheer numbers of our feathered friends inspire awe at the wonders of Nature. And let us never forget that birds play pivotal roles in our ecosystems. We hope you enjoyed this article of 7 Bizarre and Unusual Birds. Every form of life on this world serves its purpose and has its place, whether it is considered bizarre and unusual, or ordinary. It remains up to us to do our part to preserve the beauty and wonders of our world, as well as the creatures that call it home…including mankind.
Check out our other articles on various birds, including Snowy Owl, Bald Eagle, Bee Hummingbird, Galapagos Penguin, Golden Pheasant, Wallace’s Flying Frog
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