Bird Word: Cryptic

  • Cryptic: something that is hidden. A bird may have cryptic colours or markings that help it to hide from predators in its preferred habitat. A bird’s behaviour may also be cryptic, meaning it acts in ways to prevent it being seen by other species.

Some birds are incredibly hard to see. Their cryptic markings or colour makes them almost impossible to see in their natural habitat. They don’t do this to make it hard for birders to see them. They do it to hide from predators like hawks and eagles. Musk Lorikeets are mainly green in colour and they blend in beautifully with the foliage of the eucalypt trees in which they feed.

Musk Lorikeet

Musk Lorikeet

Other birds use cryptic behaviour to hide from their enemies. Some wrens can be incredibly hard to find; you can hear them in the bushes all around but they won’t show themselves. Sometimes I have been almost driven to dispair at not being able to see a White-Browed Scrub-Wren. Many other small birds are the same and defy you to ever find them as they skulk in the grass tussocks or in the shrubby undergrowth of a forest.

Spotted Nightjar

Spotted Nightjar

One species that combines both cryptic markings and behaviour is the Spotted Nightjar, shown in the photo above. Being related to the owl family of birds it is nocturnal. During the day it roosts on the ground, very quiet, very still and perfectly camouflaged in the grass, sticks and sand on which it is sleeping.

 

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