Bird Word: Corvids
- Corvids: birds that belong to the crow or raven family of birds
Crows and ravens, members of the corvid family of birds, are a common species in much of the world. In fact, this family of birds is found throughout the world except the polar caps and the very tip of South America. According to the Wikipedia article this family also includes rook, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies and nutcrackers. It claims that there are over 120 different species of corvids in total.
In Australia the members of this family include:
- Australian Raven
- Little Raven
- Little Crow
- Forest Raven
- Torresian Crow
- Thieving birds – our resident ravens are caught stealing something very unusual.
- Ravens v Choughs – fights between the White Winged Choughs and the Little Ravens in our garden.
- Clever Crows – the may be cunning, they may be annoying, but they really are clever.
- Something to crow about – more about clever crows
- Glossary of bird words – more words about birds explained.
The death rate of young birds can be quite high and most of us would be astounded if we knew the true figures. I have written before about this here.
The fact remains: all baby and young birds run the terrible risk of not surviving the first few days or weeks of their fragile lives. There are many hazards for the young bird. One I did not mention was drowning. A large number of Australian homes have swimming pools or garden ponds. I’d only be guessing here, but I’d say that probably up to ten percent of homes have some sort of water feature in their garden.
Our in ground swimming pool (“The Swamp” as I affectionately call it) is an unintended hazard for young birds still learning to fly. Probably five or six times a year I need to rescue a bird that has not been able to escape from the water. This morning was one of those occasions. The poor bird was very waterlogged. It was probably getting quite exhausted too as it flapped and flapped trying to escape. Fortunately I found it in time.
Over the coming months I must be quite vigilant. We have had many very hot days already, and summer officially only starts on Friday. The birds are attracted to the water on the hot days so a pool is irresistible. We do have three bird baths which we keep topped up but this does not seem enough.
- Why do baby birds disappear? An article in response to a reader’s question.
Great Birding Moments # 24 Caspian Terns
A few days ago we were invited to the home of friends at Meningie, about an hour’s drive from here. Meningie is on the southern shore of Lake Albert and only a few kilometres from the world famous wetland, the Coorong. We decided to take a leisurely three hour alternative route and do some birding along the way.
This area has many dairy farms bordering the lake system. Swampy areas in this part of South Australia often have small lakes, lagoons and channels and this is a great place to see some of our water birds.
At one point we took a slight detour to a spot called Long Point in the Coorong National Park. This area is a favourite with those who like to go fishing in the Coorong and there is also a small camping area. No facilities other than toilets are present.
I was delighted to get some reasonable photos of a group of Caspian Terns resting on the beach. The wind was very blustery and bitterly cold, usually so for a few weeks from summer. Using my telescope was next to useless because of the vibration caused by the wind.
I normally see only one or two Caspian Terns at a time so it was a delight to see such a large group altogether in one spot. There were probably about twenty in all. There were also plenty of Whiskered Terns, Australian Pelicans, Silver Gulls and Sharp Tailed Sandpipers present but none of these were close enough to photograph.
Bird Word: colour morph
- Colour morph: variations of colours of individuals of the same species, either lighter or darker plumage, as in some eagles.
Colour morphs, especially in some of the eagles of Australia, can be very confusing. I must explain that I am definitely NOT an expert in this area, so I won’t add to the confusion. Many of our eagles and hawks are confusing enough as it is – without the colour morphs thrown in to further muddy the water.
The only advice I can give is: study the field guides carefully – and ask someone more experienced!
For more in this series of articles check out the Glossary of Bird words here.
Grey Currawongs are widespread throughout the area where I live in South Australia but they are not common anywhere except perhaps in the Adelaide Hills. Around home here in Murray Bridge their preferred habitat is mallee scrubland. There are still a few remnant patches of scrub ranging from a few hectares to several hundred hectares. In addition, there is a significant amount of remnant mallee scrub that makes up the roadside vegetation in this district. These remnant habitats are probably very important to the Grey Currawong’s continued existance in the mallee areas of our state.
Unlike the Pied Currawong in other parts of Australia, the Grey Currawong here is not an urban dweller. It was with a little surprise then that last week I saw a group of three currawongs in a park next to one of the factories here in Murray Bridge. This park is surrounded on all sides by either light industrial establishments or low density housing.
Perhaps they are moving from the bush to become “townies”.