COMMON BUZZARD

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ORDER FAMILY
Falconiformes Accipitridae
GENUS fit SPECIES
Buteo buteo
The common buzzard is one of the most abundant birds of prey in
Europe and northern Asia. It can adapt readily to changing
habitats and different food sources.
KEY FACTS
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SIZES
Length: Almost 2 ft.
Wingspan: 3 ~ - 4 ft.
Weight: 1-3 lb.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: Usually 2 years.
Breeding season: Late March to
early July.
No. of broods: 1 .
Eggs: 2-4, white or white with
brown blotches.
Incubation: 4 ~ to 5 ~ weeks.
Fledging period: 7-8 weeks.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Solitary or paired. Typically
hunts alone.
Diet: Small mammals, birds,
reptiles, amphibians, large insects,
and earthworms.
Lifespan: Usually 6-8 years.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 24 species of buzzard in
the genus Buteo.
Summer only.
DISTRIBUTION
Much of Europe and northern Asia, from Portugal east to
Russia, Asia Minor, and a narrow belt of land from Siberia to
Japan. Also Atlantic islands off West Africa.
CONSERVATION
The buzzard suffered when rabbits, its main prey, were killed
by a viral disease called myxomatosis. Although the buzzard
has recovered, its numbers are declining in some areas.
A COMPARISON WITH THE HONEY BUZZARD
Common buzzard: Plumage
ranges from mostly pale to very
dark or any tone between these
two extremes.
© MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Honey buzzard:
Plumage varies.
Tail bar pat-
terning is usu-
ally uneven.
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Common buzzard: Heavy and
rounded head with brown plum-
age. Strong black-and-yellow bill.
Honey buzzard: Lean, protruding
head with gray plumage. Weak-
looking gray-and-yellow bill.
0160200361 PACKET 36
The common buzzard likes to hunt over open
country, although it breeds in woodlands.
It uses diverse methods to catch a variety of prey,
from rabbits to insects. In flight it resembles
the much larger golden eagle.
~ HABITS
The common buzzard glides
and soars with ease. It spends
hours circling above in search
of prey. Its flight also serves
to announce its ownership of
a particular territory.
When soaring, the bird's
wings bow upward in a shal-
low V shape. The primary
(wingtip) feathers are held
wide apart like large fingers,
and the tail is broadly fanned,
which helps provide maxi-
mum lift in rising air currents.
The best time for the buzzard
to soar is at midday during
spring and summer, when
the updraft is strongest.
When it glides, the com-
mon buzzard holds its wings
flat or slightly upturned and
directs their tips backward.
Between glides and on take-
off, it usually beats its wings
shallowly and stiffly.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
Although it looks like a small
eagle, the common buzzard
rarely kills large prey. Instead,
it feeds mainly on small mam-
mals such as rabbits, rats,
voles, and mice. But the buz-
zard adapts readily to what-
ever prey is available. It also
preys on young or weak
birds, lizards, snakes, frogs,
big insects, and earthworms,
and it feeds on carrion or the
flesh of dead animals.
The common buzzard uses
a range of hunting styles. It
soars or glides over large
areas searching for the slight-
est movement that betrays
the presence of prey below.
By flying into an updraft, the
buzzard can hover, gently
fanning its wings to remain
almost motionless. It also
searches the ground meth-
odically by flying repeatedly
~ BREEDING
The buzzard's territory varies
from about a quarter to a
half a square mile. The male
defends this area in early
spring before the eggs are
laid, in early fall when chicks
are in the nest, and in late
fall after the young have be-
come independent.
Buzzards generally mate for
life. Courtship involves a dra-
matic display. The pair soar
around each other in tight
circles giving a loud, ringing
call. The male may carry a
branch or prey in his talons.
left: The common buzzard's
eyesight is about eight times
keener than a human's.
over the same patch of land.
A common tactic is for the
buzzard to perch on a rock or
post for a while until it sights
prey. It then drops down with
half-closed wings to seize its
After mating, the pair
builds a nest, usually high in
a tree but sometimes on a
cliff. Up to three feet across,
the nest is made of large
sticks, twigs, and other avail-
able materials and lined with
green foliage. The pair may
build a new nest each year or
reuse the same one.
The female carries out most
of the incubation and then
cares for her downy white
chicks almost continuously
until they are two weeks old.
During this time the male
brings food. The female eats
some and tears up the rest for
her noisy young.
Above: A dark rabbit against a
snowy field is an easy target.
victim. The buzzard may also
walk on the ground looking for
earthworms or insects.
Soon both parents must
hunt to satisfy the large ap-
petites of the chicks. Until
they are about four weeks
old, the young cannot tear
up food for themselves.
A chick makes its first flight
at age seven to eight weeks
DID YOU KNOW?
• Many people on vacation
in Scotland think they have
seen a golden eagle when
they spot a common buz-
zard. Amused locals have
coined the name "tourist's
eagle" for the common
buzzard.
• When contesting prey with
a rival, the buzzard may use a
variety of displays to avoid a
potentially fatal fight. It may
assume the "angel" posture
U
f a bird defending a carcass,
with its wings spread behind
its back. Or it may adopt a
but remains with its parents
for another six to eight weeks
learning to hunt. The young
buzzard is nomadic until it
establishes its own territory.
Below: Young chicks are fed
regularly by both parents and
stay with them for four months.
submissive pose-lying mo-
tionless on one side with a
wing raised in defeat.
• A buzzard's territory ex-
tends vertically as high as
800 feet above ground.
Below this height, intruders
are attacked or chased away,
but above it birds may soar
unharmed.
• The American bird of prey
Cathartes aura is sometimes
called the turkey buzzard.
But it is not related to the
common buzzard. Its correct
name is the turkey vulture.
_____ J
BLACK-CAPPED LORY
ORDER
Psittaciformes
FAMILY
Loridae
GENUS & SPECIES
Lorius lory
The black -capped lory inhabits the tropical rainforests of the
western Pacific Ocean. This colorful parrot rarely approaches
the ground, preferring the tops of tall trees instead.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 1 ft.
Wingspan: 2 ft.
Weight: 5-7 oz.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 2-3 years.
Breeding season: April to
September in captivity.
No. of broods: 1-2.
Eggs: 2.
Incubation: About 24 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Lives singly or in pairs. Often
feeds in groups.
Diet: Flowers, fruits, insects,
nectar, pollen, and seeds.
Lifespan: 8-10 years in captivity.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 8 species of lory
including the chattering lory,
Lorius garrulus garrulus, and the
purple-capped lory, L. domicellus.
Range of the black-capped lory.
DISTRIBUTION
Found in the undisturbed parts of rainforests in New
Guinea. Also found on some islands in Sarera Bay and in
the Gulf of Papua.
CONSERVATION
The main threat to the black-capped lory is the destruction
of its natural habitat. The species does not easily adapt to
replanted forests.
FEATURES OF THE BLACK-CAPPED LORY
Short and rounded
tail is characteris-
. tic of the small
lory species.
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Two forward-
pointing and
two backward-
pointing toes
provide secure
grip on a
branch. Uses
its feet to
bring food up
to its beak.
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Well adapted to
livinq in trees,
like most
parrots. Uses
its feet and bill
for climbing
and feeding.
Tongue: Probes flowers for food.
Tiny papillae (bumps) become
raised during feeding and brush
off pollen and nectar.
0160200271 PACKET 27
~ FOOD & FEEDING
The lory's tongue is especially
adapted for eating flowers and
pollen, its main food. The
tongue's tip is covered with tiny
papillae (bumps) which are raised
when the bird is feeding or ex-
ploring a flower for food. The pa-
pillae are flat at other times.
The black-capped lory also eats
fruit, nectar, insects, and caterpil-
lars. When feeding, the lory uses
its feet to bring food up to its
long, hooked bill.
Left: Black-copped lories are
usually seen alone or in pairs.
Right: The arrangement of the
lory's toes enables it to hang in
any position fram a branch.
The black-capped lory is elusive and hard to ~ BREEDING
-----st-u-d-y-i-n-t-h-e-w-i-,d-.-B-u-t-in-c-a-p-ti-v-ity- th-e -b-ir-d---- Little is known about the black-
capped lory's breeding habits
displays intelligence, playfulness, friendliness, in the wild. It is known to nest
in the hollows of trees or in ter-
and an ability to mimic sounds. The captive mite hills.
lory needs extra care that is best given by The lory's main breeding
season is from April to Septem-
specialist birdkeepers. ber. To attract a female, the
male perches upright, spreads
~ BEHAVIOR
Because it is solitary and lives
high in the treetops of its range,
naturalists know very little about
the black-capped lory's behavior
in the wild. Most information is
obtained by observing the bird
in captivity. Even this may not be
reliable because of variations in
behavior that may result from
the bird's adaptation to artificial
living conditions.
The black-capped lory's natural
habitat is in the undisturbed
rainforests of Papua New Guinea.
The bird is solitary except during
mating season. It is especially ac-
tive at dawn and dusk, flying be-
tween roosting and feeding areas.
The black-capped lory is usually
found at an altitude of 3,000
feet. In uncultivated areas, it is
sometimes found at 4,500 feet.
Below: A black-capped lory preens
(smooths) its feathers.
his wings, and turns his head
to one side. He bobs his body
up and down while hissing
through his open bill. The
mated pair forms a strong at-
tachment, and the male is ag-
gressive toward other birds
during the nesting period.
Mating and breeding may
occur twice during each sea-
son, and two eggs are usually
laid in each brood. They have
an incubation period of about
24 days. The young black-
capped lories remain in the
nest for 8 to 10 weeks.
Below: A male lory displays his
plumage during courtship.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The captive lory is well
known for its mimicry, but
it does not use this skill in
the wild.
• Lories are also sometimes
called "brush-tongue"
parrots because of the
papillae on their tongues.
~ THE LORY & MAN
Black-capped lories are less
popular as pets than macaws or
cockatoos. They are expensive to
feed, since they need fresh fruit
throughout the year. Their drop-
pings are messier than the seed-
eating parrots', and their cages
need cleaning more often.
To thrive in captivity, lories
must be housed in aviaries
(large, naturalistic enclosures for
birds). They are usually kept only
by specialists, so the main threat
to their survival is destruction of
the rainforests of New Guinea,
not the parrot pet trade.
" CARD 73
EGYPTIAN VULTURE
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ORDER
Accipitriformes
FAMILY
Accipitridae
GENUS & SPECIES
Neophron percnopterus
Slightly larger than a raven, the Egyptian vulture is known
for using rocks as tools. It can throw a two-pound rock
at an ostrich egg to break its shell.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 2-21/2 ft.
Wingspan: 4-6 ft.
Weight: 4-5 lb.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 4-5 years.
Breeding season: Mid-March to
late August in Mediterranean.
Eggs: Usually 2.
No. of broods: 1, frequently with
only 1 chick surviving.
Incubation period: 42 days.
Fledging period: 70-90 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Mostly in pairs or solitary,
except when migrating or
roosting.
Diet: Mainly carrion and human
excrement. Also catches insects.
RELATED SPECIES
A slightly smaller subspecies,
Neophron percnopterus
ginginianus, lives in India. It too
has a yellow bill.
Winter range of Egyptian vulture. Breeding range.
DISTRIBUTION
Found in countries near the Mediterranean extending east to
the Middle East and the Sovi et Union. Winters in Africa and
India. A mostly migratory bird, it lives year-round only in
Cape Verde and the Canary Islands.
CONSERVATION
Lack of carrion has caused numbers to decline in most areas,
but t he bird is not yet endangered.
IDENTIFYI NG THE EGYPTIAN VULTURE
Head and neck: Adult has a white ruff
on the back of the head with naked,
yell ow skin on face and beak. Young
has grayish neck feathers and beak.
©MCMXCIIMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Plumage: Underparts, back, and
front edges of wings are beige-
white. Trailing edges of wi ngs
and primary (wingtip) feathers
are black. Tail is wedge-shaped
in flight, and wi ngs are pointed
with spreading primaries.
Eggs: Two, off-white with rusty
red blotches, laid in a large
nest on a rocky ledge or cave.
0160200281 PACKET 28
The Egyptian vulture stands out
from the rest of its vulture relatives with its
almost white coat and contrasting black flight
feathers. Although smaller than most vulture
species, it is extremely strong.
~ H A B I T A T
The Egyptian vulture lives at
heights of over 12,000 feet
around the Mediterranean sea
and eastern Soviet Union.
In summer it stays in Turkey
and Egypt; it spends the
winter in central Africa and
India, where many Egyptian
vultures live year-round.
The Egyptian vulture in-
habits open grasslands,
steppes, or other low vege-
tation areas where it circles in
search of food. Today it also
lives around trash dumps
outside towns and cities.
left: The
featherless
yellow face
does not get
matted with
blood from
carcasses like
plumage
would. Many
vulture species
also have bare
necks.
DID YOU KNOW?
• In 'an experiment testing
birds' use of tools, vultures
threw stones at a huge fiber-
glass egg for an hour and a
half before giving up.
• The Egyptian vulture has a
~ FOOD &: HUNTiNG
The Egyptian vulture has a
varied diet. It eats garbage and
carrion, usually waiting until
larger scavengers have finished
with a carcass.
Unlike its heavier relatives,
the lightweight Egyptian vul-
ture does not need to soar
left: The
black and
white plum-
age can
best be seen
when the
bird is in
flight.
Right: An
adult guards
its young.
The brown
juvenile Will
soon develop
bright yellow
facial skin.
variety of calls but is sel-
dom heard using them.
• Nearly 6,000 Egyptian
vultures migrated across
the Straits of Gibraltar in
the fall of 1972.
on air thermals. It flies lower,
perching on telephone poles
and buildings to spot smaller
carcasses of foxes, dogs,
rodents, and lizards. It also
catches insects by following
a farmer's plow.
The Egyptian vulture has
~ BREEDING
The Egyptian vulture breeds
mid-March to late August and
pairs for life. Each year, the
parents use the same nest.
Nests are built on sheltered
rock or cave ledges, in tall
trees, or on buildings.
The female lays two eggs
over a two- to four-day period.
been known to travel 44
miles to find food.
Certain vulture populations
have learned how to smash
the shells of large eggs by
gripping heavy stones in their
beaks as tools. They also grip
prey, such as a wriggling
After a 42-day incubation,
which both parents share in,
the eggs hatch in two to four
days. The parents collect food
for the chicks, but only the
male brings it the first few
days.
The young are mature at
four to five years old.
lizard, and knock it against a
rock before feeding.
The Egyptian vulture also
eats human excrement found
outside of settlements.
Below left &: right: A vulture
throws a stone at the shell of an
ostrich egg to crack it open.
CHAFFINCH
" CARD 74 I , __ --.._ K_EY_ FA_C_T_S _____________ -----J
" GROUP 2: BIRDS
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~ ORDER FAMilY ~ GENUS & SPECIES
~ Passeriformes Fringillidae ~ Fringil/a coelebs
The chaffinch, one of the most common finches in Europe,
lives in gardens, parks, and woodlands everywhere during
summer, flocking in open country during the winter.
SIZES
length: 5-6 in.
Weight: 1/2-1 oz.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: April to June.
No. of broods: 1 or 2.
Eggs: 4-5.
Incubation: 11-1 3 days.
Fledging: 1 3-14 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Sociable outside breeding
season.
Diet: Varied, mainly seeds.
Call: Song during breeding season.
Warning call.
RELATED SPECIES
Of the 150 species of finch, only 3
belong to the genus Fringilla: the
chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs, the
brambling, F. montifringilla, and
the blue chaffinch, F. teydea, which
is found only on the Canary Islands.
Range of the chaffinch.
DISTRIBUTION
Found across Europe, North Africa, the Azores, Madeira, and
the Canary Islands. Species from northern and eastern regions
spend the winter in Europe and the Middle East.
CONSERVATION
A stable population of seven million chaffinch pairs lives in
Europe. Some species of finch such as the Hawaiian finch are
endangered, and a few are now extinct.
THE CHAFFINCH AND ITS NEST
Female:
SpenDs up to
18 days
building the
cup-shaped
nest.
Flight and tail
feathers: White
bars distinguish the
chaffinch from the
sparrow and
brambling.
Male: Territorial
during breeding
season, chasing
away intruding
males.
©MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
THE CHAFFINCH'S NEST AND
EGGS
,
Eggs: Female lays four or five.
Off-white with reddish mark-
ings. Incubated 11 to 13 days.
Young: Fed by female with insects,
mainly caterpillars.
Nest: Made from grass, moss, and
lichen. Lined with feathers.
0160200251 PACKET 25
The chaffinch is found throughout
Europe and is easily identified by
its pink-colored breast. During winter,
flocks of more than 200 birds
gather at roosting sites.

During breeding season, the
colorful male chaffinch
marks his territory by singing
and chasing away intruding
males. The densely covered
territory may be up to 1,300
square feet.
In winter the chaffinch
DID YOU KNOW?
• A female chaffinch may
make 1, 300 trips to gather
nest-building materials.
• Only three finches feed
their young entirely on
moves to open terrain in
flocks of 200 or more birds,
including sparrows, other
finches, and the brambling,
its closest relative.
At night it roosts with
other species in trees and
hedges.
insects: the chaffinch, the
blue chaffinch, and the
brambling. All other finches
feed their young predigested
seeds or seeds and insects.
FOOD &: FEEDING
The chaffinch feeds mainly on
seeds, which it gleans from
many sources. Its beak crushes
the tough seed husks, its
mouth has hard ridges and
powerful jaw muscles that
crack the seeds, and its tongue
discards the empty husks.
The chaffinch also eats a
left: A pink breast and blue-gray
crown easily identify the male
chaffinch.

BI RDWATCH
The male's pale gray-blue
neck and crown, pi nk-flushed
underparts, chestnut back,
and green rump disti nguish it
from other birds.
variety of other plant matter,
including apples, blossoms,
berries, and buds. It also
probably eats more insects
than any other finch species.
Owls and hawks prey on the
chaffinch. Magpies, jays, cats,
and stoats take its nestlings.
Right: The male chaffinch lives
under dense cover in woodlands,
parks, and gardens.
The li ght brown female has
cream-colored underparts. Both
sexes have disti nctive white bars
on t he flight feat hers and outer
tail feathers.

In February the male chaf-
finch establishes his territory
under dense cover. He finds a
mate by approaching her in a
lopsided crouch, followed by
singing and other displays.
Once the female has en-
tered his territory, she finds a
nest site in a bush, hedge, or
small tree. It takes her up to
18 days to build the cup-
shaped nest from grass,
roots, moss, and lichen held
in place with cobwebs. She
left: The female chaffinch builds
the nest alone with grass and
moss.

Each chaffinch learns its song
by listening to and imitating
other chaffinches in the area.
It gains a local "dialect" from
nearby males, especially the
father. By learning to sing,
lines the nest with feathers.
The pair breed from April to
June. The female lays four to
five eggs and incubates them
for 11 to 1 3 days. The helpless
newly hatched chicks are
nurtured mainly by the female,
who feeds them insects beak-
to-beak.
The rapidly developing chicks
fledge in 12 to 15 days. They
follow the female to nearby
dense cover, where she con-
tinues to feed them and helps
them to fly. When food is
plentiful, the chaffinch will
raise a second brood within
the same year.
young males also learn how
to establish territories for
the next breeding season.
Chaffinches that are raised
in captivity sing instinctive-
ly but less elaborately.
EMU
,,-
ORDER
Casuariiformes
FAMILY
Dromaiidae
GENUS & SPECIES
Dromaius novaehollandiae
~ R D 7 5 ~
The emu is a very large, flightless bird that is second in size only to
the ostrich. It is a native of Australia and appears, along with
the kangaroo, on Australia ~ coat of arms.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Height: Up to 6 ft.
Weight: 65-100 lb. Female
heavier than male.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 2 years.
Breeding season: April to July.
No. of broods: 1 or 2.
Eggs: 9-11, large, olive green.
Incubation period: 8 weeks.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Sociable outside the
breeding season. Nomadic for
much of the year.
Range of the emu.
DISTRIBUTION
Call: Male hisses and grunts. Fe-
male makes loud and resonant
booming noises.
Diet: Seeds, fruit, insects, small
rodents, and lizards.
Found throughout Australia, except in rainforests and on
cleared land. It is rare in northern areas and deserts.
CONSERVATION lifespan: 5-10 years in the wild.
Longer in captivity. The emu is widespread throughout its range. It appears to be
in no danger of extinction, although its habitat is shrinking
RElATED SPECIES
Related to other flightless birds,
including the ostrich and the kiwi.
as land is cleared for farming. The emu's population is con-
trolled by the government.
FEATURES OF THE EMU
Chicks: Top of
the head is
spotted. Body
is downy with
dark stripes
along the back
and flanks.
Male: Long, drooping feathers.
General coloring is dark brown to
gray-brown.
Wings: Hidden under feathers. No
longer used for flight. They can be
held away from the body to keep
the emu cool in hot weather.
Nest and eggs: Shallow
nest about 3 teet across
is built by the male. The
female lays 9-11 large
olive green eggs.
Legs: Long and strong
so the emu can walk
quickly for long dis-
tances. Feet have three
large toes.
© MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200361 PACKET 36
The emu has coarse, shaggy plumage that is dark
when new but gradually fades to a light brown
as the molting season approaches.
This strange-looking bird is closely related
to the other four flightless, ground-dwelling birds-
the kiwi, ostrich, cassowary, and rhea.
Collectively these birds are known as ratites.
~ HABITS
The emu lives in small groups
except during the breeding
season. Occasionally several
groups join to form a herd of
several thousand.
The emu stays in one place
while the male incubates the
eggs. But usually it wanders,
Right: Emus
need large
amounts of
water. They
may drink
from watering
holes that
ranch owners
have made for
their livestock.
traveling long distances in
search of food. When food is
plentiful, the emu builds up
reserves of fat, which it uses
when food is scarce. An emu
normally weighs about 100
pounds, but it can still func-
tion at 45 pounds.
~ BREEDING
The emu mates in December
and January. The male builds
a shallow, bowl-shaped nest
under a bush or small tree.
In April or May the female
lays 9 to 1 1 large, dark green
eggs. The male incubates the
eggs, while the female leaves
and may mate again and lay
a second clutch of eggs. Dur-
Left: The emu is a nervous bird
that is constantly on the alert for
potential trouble.
DID YOU KNOW?
• There is an old saying in
Australia that someone is
"as stupid as an emu."
• Early settlers made om-
elets from emu eggs. One
egg fed several people. It
was first broken into a ba-
sin and left overnight so all
the oil could be skimmed
Right: The
emu's fond-
ness for seeds
causes trouble
with farmers,
who may
shoot birds
that feed on
their land.
ing this period the male does
not eat or drink but lives off
his fat reserves.
The chicks hatch after eight
weeks and can soon leave the
nest. The male is very aggres-
sive, driving away the female
or humans who come too
close. He guards the chicks
for five to seven months.
Right: Chicks are tended by the
male until they are at least seven
months old.
off before it was cooked.
• The stomach of one emu
was found to contain near-
ly 3,000 caterpillars.
• Emus investigate any ob-
ject they come across. One
emu reportedly drank the
contents of a can of paint
and then swallowed the tin.
~ EMU&:MAN
Until the late eighteenth cen-
tury several kinds of emu lived
in Australasia, each on a sepa-
rate island. Many were killed
by early settlers for meat and
for oil that could be extracted
from the carcasses and used as
medicine and in lamps.
The emu population on the
Australian mainland survived
in spite of several government
campaigns to reduce their
numbers because of the dam-
age they do to cereal crops.
Now, man-made watering
holes for cattle and sheep
provide the emu with a per-
manent supply of fresh water
in places where there was no
fresh water before.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
The emu eats only foods that
are rich in nutrients, such as
seeds, fruit, and young shoots,
as well as insects, lizards, and
small rodents. It avoids grass _
and leaves even if they are all
that is available. To help its
stomach grind the food; the
emu takes in pebbles with its
food. These pebbles can weigh
as much as two ounces each.
The emu must also have access
to fresh water.
Because its diet is so nutri -
tious, the emu grows quickly
and reproduces in large num-
bers. It covers hundreds of
miles searching for food after
the supplies in one area have
been exhausted.
OLD WORLD WHITE PELICAN
",. ORDER
~ Pelecaniformes
FAMILY
Pelecanidae
GENUS & SPECIES
Pelecanus onocrotalus
The Old World white pelican has a pouch beneath its bill that can
hold nearly three and a half gallons-two to three times the
capacity of its stomach.
KEY FACTS
: . . . . . - - - - ~ I - - -
SIZES
Length: 4'12 -6 ft.
Bill: 1-1 '12 ft.
Weight: 15-30 Ibs.
Wingspan: 8-9 ft .
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 3-4 years.
Mating: April to July in Europe.
Eggs: 1-3, chalky white.
Incubation: 29-36 days.
Fledging: 65-70 weeks.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Live in colonies.
Diet: Fish.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 6 other species in the
genus Pelecanus: American white,
brown, and gray; Dalmatian; pink·
backed; Australian; and Chilean
pelicans.
Range of the Old World white pelican.
DISTRIBUTION
Concentrated in the Danube delta and other sites in
Eastern Europe. Also found in scattered locations across
Africa and Asia.
CONSERVATION
The Old World white pelican's breeding range is shrinking,
but there are still at least 3,000-5,000 breeding pairs in the
Danube area.
FISHING METHODS OF THE OLD WORLD WHITE PELICAN
© MCMXCI IMP BV/IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Bill: Very long.
Pouch stretches
to hold almost
3
1
/2 gallons of
liquid. Pelican
strains water,
then swallows
fish.
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Fishing: The white pelican often
fishes alone, but it also hunts in
a team.
1. Birds gather in a semicircle.
2. They move together toward
the bank, beating their wings to
herd schools of fish into the
shallows.
3. Pelicans scoop up the herded
fish in their big bills.
0160200341 PACKET 34
The Old World white pelican is clumsy on land,
but it has adapted extremely well to life
in the air and on water. It is aided in this
by its light, air-filled skeleton and a network
of air sacs under its skin.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
The Old World white pelican
needs to eat more than four
pounds of live fish per day,
but a hungry bird will eat
garbage or young birds.
White pelicans may fish
alone or with others. When
fishing together, they form a
semicircle on the water and
then swim together toward
the shore. Beating their wings
as they close in, they drive
the fish into the shallows.
When the water is full of
fish, the pelicans scoop them
up with their beaks, using
their pouches like nets. Then
they drain off the water and
swallow the fish.
~ H A B I T S
Old World white pelicans
nest in colonies. They fly to-
gether in formation, most
often in a long "wing," with
one bird beside, and just
ahead of, the next.
Using air currents to soar
upward, the birds cruise at
an altitude of between 500
and 1,000 feet, beating their
wings in unison.
White pelicans are so quick
to copy one another that a
group may seem to be acting
on unseen signals. A group at
rest will face the same way,
with their heads held high
and their beaks folded down
along their pouches.
Above: A pelican chick takes 165
pounds of food from its parent's
bill before it is able to feed itself.
~ BREEDING
The Old World white pelican
builds a nest from twigs and
reeds on the ground, in
bushes, or in mangrove trees,
but always near water. There
are usually two white eggs,
which the parents take turns
sitting on. Incubation takes
about four to five weeks.
The newborn is featherless,
blind, and weak. During the
first week each parent
dribbles half-digested fish
into the chick's open beak.
After that the chick is strong
Left: A pelican at rest, displaying
its deeply pouched bill.
Below: Muscular wings and
broad, black primary (wingtip)
feathers aid the pelican in flying.
enough to pull food from the
parent's pouch. To catch fish
for itself and its family, the
adult flies 5 to 30 miles each
Above: Young white pelicans
practice fishing techniques in
groups.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Stories describe the peli-
can helping poor fishermen
in India with their catch. It is
also claimed that the pelican
helped to build a Muslim
shrine in Mecca.
• The tale that the pelican
feeds its young with blood
from its breast may be due
day in the breeding season.
Due to cold and wet
weather, only one chick
usually survives in each nest.
Below: Still covered with dark,
woolly down, young pelicans wait
for their next meal.
to the Dalmatian pelican's
color during breeding,
when it has a reddish patch
over its crop and pouch that
looks like a wound.
• The pelican and its rela-
tives are the only birds to
have all four toes connected
by webs.
TRUMPETER SWAN
ORDER
Anseriformes
FAMILY
Anatidae
GENUS & SPECIES
a/or buccinator
The trumpeter swan is the largest and, some say, the most
majestic of all wildfowl. Found only in North America,
it is also the rarest of the seven species of swan.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: Up to 6 ft.
Weight: Male, 26 lb. Female, 20 lb.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 4 years; but
usually not until 5 or 6.
Breeding season: April to May.
Eggs: 4-6, white.
Incubation period: 33-37 days.
Fledging period: 3-4 months.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Surface feeding, partly
migratory, and territorial.
Diet: Aquatic vegetation.
Lifespan: Up to 10 years.
RELATED SPECIES
Of the 6 related species of swan,
2 are classified in the genus
a/or: the whooper swan,
O. cygnus, and the Tundra
swan, O. columbianus.
Breeding range. Winter range. Permanent range.
DISTRIBUTION
Found throughout southern Alaska and at various sites
in southern Canada, Wyoming, Montana, Washington,
Oregon, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Also winters along
the coast of British Columbia.
CONSERVATION
The trumpeter swan is now a protected species, and
sanctuaries have been established throughout its range.
FEATURES OF THE TRUMPETER SWAN
After - e
cygnets (young
swans) will not
stray far from thei r
protective parents.
Often the family
remains together
until the next
breeding season.
The red line along the swan's bill is
popularly called the lipstick line.
Trumpeter t ans
use thei r long
necks to feed off
aquatic vegetati on
underwater.
©MCMXCIIMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.SA
The trumpeter
_ swan's long neck
is made up of 25
neck bones.
0160200291 PACKET 29
The trumpeter swan is a close relative
and North American counterpart of the Eurasian
whooper swan. These two swans are so similar in their
appearance and habits that some experts consider
them all to be one species.
~ HABITAT
Once widespread throughout
much of North America, the
trumpeter swan was hunted
to the brink of extinction
during the 1800s. Of today's
two main breeding popula-
tions, the largest is in south-
ern Alaska. The other is
spread thinly throughout the
northern Rocky Mountains
and the Great Plains. Many
populations have been rein-
troduced to habitats within
the swan's former range.
For most of the year the
trumpeter swan inhabits low-
land rivers, lakes, ponds, and
freshwater marshes. It also
lives in damp woodland and
even on open prairies. The
trumpeter swans of central
North America stay in much
the same area all year. The
Alaskan population, however,
is migratory. In autumn these
swans leave the icy Alaskan
tundra and fly east and south
to warmer marine habitats.
~ FOOD & FEEDING ~ BREEDING
The trumpeter swan feeds on a
wide variety of aquatic plants.
The swan pecks at bankside
and water vegetation as it
swims by. To reach submerged
plants the swan upends, or
immerses its head and neck
while paddling along. Its long
neck allows it to nibble at
leaves and stems of plants
rooted over three feet below
the surface. The swan can
exploit food sources beyond
the reach of other water birds.
Swans are wasteful feeders,
often uprooting whole plants
for the sake of a few leaves.
Often one or two other smaller
birds follow in its wake eating
whatever it leaves behind.
On land the swan grazes on
grass .and low-growing plants.
It also feeds on agricultural
crops such as wheat. Chiefly a
plant eater, this large swan
occasionally eats invertebrates
along with its more usual diet
of leaves and stems.
Left: The swan is a regal-looking
bird.
Right: Cygnets (baby swans)
often stay close to their parents
until the next breeding season.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The trumpeter swan has a
large syrinx (voice box) and a
windpipe so long that it coils
around within the bird's
breastbone. These features
create the bird's deep and
resonant trumpeting call .
• Hybrids between trumpeter
swans and whistling swans
born in captivity are called
"trumplings."
The trumpeter swan mates for
life. During breeding season
each pair establishes and de-
fends a large territory around
its nest site. Territories are
staked out as early as February,
although migrant birds seldom
reach their breeding grounds
Right: The
swan clears the
surrounding
area during
nest construc-
tion.
Far right: A
swan raises its
wings in a
threat display
to protect its
nest.
• The legend that swans
sing before they die was in-
vented by the Greeks. But
some ornithologists note
that the gasps of a dying
swan may produce a mourn-
ful song.
• During breeding season,
the trumpeter swan is very
protective of its nest area
and the airspace above.
until March or April. Many
pairs use the same nest site
each year, often close to or
on the water. If a beaver or
muskrat lodge is in their area,
they often build a nest on top
of it. Both birds build the
twiggy nest, which may be
over 10 feet wide at the
base, and line it with soft
grass and down.
The female lays her eggs
in April or May and incu-
bates them for about five
weeks while the male
guards their territory.
~ TRUMPETER SWAN & MAN
Once common throughout
much of North America, the
swan was almost wiped out by
early colonists. Its aggressive,
territorial manner-choosing
to fight rather than flee-
made it an easy target for
hunters. Trumpeter swans
were killed both for food and
for their feathers. The larger
flight feathers were made into
quill pens and decorations for
ladies' hats, while the softer
down feathers were used for
powder puffs and feather boas.
By 1933 only 66 trumpeter
swans were known to exist.
The trumpeter swan is now
protected by law and sanctuar-
ies have been set up. In Alaska,
oil exploration and mining
threaten their largest habitat.
VUL TURINE GUINEAFOWL
'=
GROUP 2: BIRDS
.. ORDER
"IIIIIIII Galliformes
FAMILY
Numididae
.. GENUS &: SPECIES
"IIIIIIII Acryl/ium vulturinum
The vulturine guineafowl is perfectly adapted to dry, scrubby
terrain. It does not need to drink water because it can obtain
enough moisture from its food.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 2 - 2 ~ ft.
Wing length: 1 ft .
Weight: 2 ~ - 3 ~ lb.
BREEDING
Breeding season: Follows pattern
of rains. Peaks from December to
January and in June.
Eggs: 8-15, cream or pale brown.
Incubation: 23-28 days.
Fledging period: About 14 days,
but chick can fly before grown.
LIFESTYLE
Range of the vulturine guineafowl.
DISTRIBUTION
Habit: Sociable; lives on ground.
Diet: Seeds and other plant parts,
berries, insects, spiders, mollusks.
Call: Usually quiet. Metallic calls,
especially when going to roost.
Semiarid scrub regions of Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, north-
eastern Uganda, and northeastern Tanzania.
CONSERVATION
RELATED SPECIES
The 7 species of guineafowl all live
in Africa.
The vulturine guineafowl is common over most of its range
and is not currently endangered. Some local populations
have decreased because of hunting.
FEATURES OF THE VULTURINE GUI NEAFOWL
Eggs: Laid in a
grassy dip in the
ground.
© MCMXCI IMP BVIIMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Feeding:
Scratches in the
earth for seeds
and other plant
parts. Also uses
its heavy, vulture-
like beak to peck
at insects and
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Habitat: Adapted to survive in semi-
desert scrub but also lives in moun-
tainous forests. Its specialized gut
enables the bird to digest tough
food plants.
0160200351 PACKET 35
The vulturine guineafowl is the tallest and
most colorful of all the guineafowl. Its plumage
of black-and-white stripes and dots is enlivened
by areas of cobalt blue and lilac. The bird is named
for its naked vulturelike head and neck.
The band of velvety chestnut feathers on the back
of its neck resembles a monk's haircut.

The vulturine guineafowllives
in the semiarid parts of East
Africa, where the vegetation
is mainly acacia scrub. It is
also sometimes seen in wood-
lands with other species of
guineafowl.
The vulturine guineafowl
prefers to walk or run swiftly
on its long legs when it is dis-
turbed, but it will burst into a
short escape flight of 150 to
350 feet as a last resort. It
retreats from the ground at
nightfall, flying up to roost in
trees. Each flock tends to se-
lect a tall acacia with dense
surrounding shrubbery.
For most of the year the
vulturine guineafowl lives in
groups of 20 to 30, but flocks
of as many as 70 birds may
occur. During breeding sea-
son, the group breaks up into
nesting pairs and small bands
of unmated birds.
The guineafowl is quiet, ex-
cept when giving occasional
contact calls. But a flock of
birds can be noisy when fly-
ing to roost and may fill the
air with metallic cries.
FOOD &: FEEDING
The guineafowl begins feed-
ing at dawn. The flock for-
ages busily, generally keeping
within easy reach of cover,
until midday. During the heat
of the day, the birds rest in
the shade of bushes, but in
late afternoon they resume
their foraging.
The bird takes most of its
Left: The vul-
turine guinea-
fowl's striking
plumage has
made it a pop-
ular bird in
aviaries.
Right: These
handsome blue,
black, and white
feathers are in-
effective in flight
but are integral
to the vulturine
guineafowl's
courtship dis-
play. The velvety
head feathers
can also be seen
in this photo.
food from low plants or from
the ground, scratching the
earth with its feet. It eats
grass seeds and other plant
parts, insects, spiders, and
snails. It may also clamber
into shrubs and low trees to
pluck berries and fruit.
The guineafowl is appar-
ently able to survive without
drinking water. Succulent
plants and insects provide
moisture, along with the
morning dew on foliage. Part
of the guineafowl's caecum
(gut) is much longer than in
other birds. This feature en-
sures that as much water as
possible is reabsorbed from
the bird's waste.
BREEDING
Seasonal rains trigger breed-
ing activity by ensuring suf-
ficient food for the young.
The peak breeding season is
June, but mating may occur
at any time of year.
The male rears up in front
of a female with his head
bent down and his wings
partly spread. If she fails to
respond, he may follow her
and try again. After successful
Left: The vulturine guineafowl
spends most of the day walking
about, foraging for food with the
rest of the flock.
DID YOU
• The vulturine guinea-
fowl has unusually bright
plumage for a ground
bird in a dry habitat. Most
ground birds have dull
brown plumage for cam-
ouflage in the open terrain.
• The vulturine guinea-
fowl is found in aviaries
in North America and
Europe. It copes well with
the differences in climate.
• The guineafowl takes its
name from Guinea, an old
designation for the part of
West Africa that extends
from Gambia to Angola.
• The most widespread
and sociable guineafowl is
the helmeted guineafowl.
Flocks of more than 2,000
birds have been recorded.
• Most guineafowl live in
less arid habitats than vul-
turine guineafowl, such as
light woodland. The black
guineafowl and the white-
breasted guineafowllive
in dense rainforest.
mating, the female lays up to
15 eggs in a depression in
long grass or scrub.
The female incubates the
eggs, but when the young
hatch, they leave the nest and
are cared for and fed by the
male for the first few days. The
downy chicks are a yellowish-
brown color. They grow rapid-
ly, gaining flight feathers after
about two weeks and bright
blue feathers on the breast
after another six weeks. They
normally acquire the full adult
plumage within a year.
GREAT WHITE EGRET
... ORDER
..., Ciconiiformes
... FAMILY
..., Ardeinae
... GENUS & SPECIES
..., Egretta alba
The great white egret is a slender heron that haunts
marshland margins. During the breeding season it displays
a feathery cloak of delicate white plumes.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: About 3 ft.
Wingspan: 4-5 ft.
Weight: 2-3 lb .
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 2 years.
Breeding season: April to July in
southeast Europe.
Incubation period: 25 days.
No. of eggs: 2-5 .
Fledging period: 40 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Partially migratory heron.
Diet: Fish, aquatic invertebrates,
small mammals, and insects.
Lifespan: Oldest recorded, 22
years, 10 months.
RELATED SPECIES
There are 1 3 species in the family
including the intermediate egret,
Egretta intermedia, the snowy
egret, E. thula, and the reddish
egret, E. rufescens.
Range of the great white egret.
DISTRIBUTION
Found throughout North and South America, Africa south of
the Sahara, Asia, and Australasia. Occurs in patches across
southern and eastern Europe.
CONSERVATION
Although still numerous in the United States with over
100,000 pairs recorded, numbers are decreasing worldwide
due to habitat loss and pollution.
r-;;ATURES OF THE GREAT WHITE EGRET
Bill: Yellow
with dark ti p
outside
breeding season.
Black with a yel -
low base during
breeding season.
Eggs: Two to five
pale blue. Usually
only two to
three survive to
ulthood.
(0MCMXCI IMP BVI IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM
Neck: Long and
curving. Coiled
when egret is
at rest or is in
flight.
Plumage: Entire-
Iy white. The
longer display
plumes grow
from the lower
back.
SOME RELATIVES OF THE
GREAT WHITE EGRET
Great blue heron
Ardea herodias
z--
/,
Snowy egret ~ -
Egretta thula l
Cattle egret
Ardeola ibis
The snowy egret and great blue
heron live in the United States.
The cattle egret is an African
species that has recently
colonized in the United States.
PRINTED IN U.S.A. 01 60200241 PACKET 24
The great white egret is the most
widespread of all the herons, with a breeding
range that spans five of the world's continents.
But the nineteenth-century demand for fashionable
egret-plumed hats caused mass slaughter of this
handsome bird, and few of its populations
have fully recovered from the losses.
~ HABITAT
The great white egret is a
member of the heron family.
It ranges from low-lying
coastal and inland wetlands
to areas over a mile high in
the mountains of the Soviet
Union. It also inhabits arid
regions of the world.
The great white egret is a
strong flyer and is partially
migratory. Northern popula-
tions head south to winter
with their southern relatives.
During migration some birds
fly astray and end up in the
northern or southern ex-
tremes of their range.
~ FOOD & FEEDING
The great white egret stalks
through shallow waters near
the shore, searching for prey.
As it walks it extends its neck,
ready to stab with its spear-
shaped bill. It may also freeze
and wait for prey, then move
in slow motion, inching up on
its unsuspecting victim.
The great white egret eats a
varied diet that changes
through the year. In the wet
season, fish such as carp and
sunfish and small aquatic
invertebrates are its chief
food. During the drier months
~ GREAT WHITE
EGRET & MAN
In the nineteenth century,
demand for egret plumes for
women's hats led to the
widespread hunting of the
bird. Public outcry resulted in
laws that protected egrets.
Their numbers rose briefly
before falling again because of
pollution and habitat loss.
Left: An adult
male preens
himself in
Florida's
Everglades
National Park,
where the
species has
established
a breeding
colony.
Right: After
pairing in
spring, the male
and female
build a nest
together and
take turns
sitting on the
eggs.
the bird hunts a variety of
small mammals, larger in-
sects, snails, small reptiles,
and nestling birds.
Male and female great white
egrets pair in spring or after
arriving from their wintering
grounds. During courtship
the male displays his 30 to 50
extended plumes. He greets
his potential mate with plumes
raised and wings wide open.
Their nest is a large pile of
dried reeds and twigs lined
The great white egret most
often hunts alone, but where
food is plentiful it feeds in
flocks of several hundred.
Far left: The
great white
egret curves
its neck into
its body when
flying.
Left: With its
long, stabbing
beak, the
egret grabs
this small
snake.
inside with soft leaves and
grass. The nest, measuring
over three feet wide, is built
close to the water among wet
reed beds or high up in a tree.
The pair finds a secluded site
or nests in colonies of up to 50
pairs, sometimes with other
species of heron.
The female lays a clutch of
DID YOU KNOW?
• The British-based Royal
Society of the Protection of
Birds was founded over 100
years ago in response to the
large-scale killing of birds
such as the great white
egret. The RSPB is Europe's
largest voluntary wildlife
charity.
• The egret's yellow beak
turns black when the bird is
ready to breed.
• The great white egret is
also called the great egret,
I
the large egret, and the
large white egret.
__ ---I
pale blue eggs at two-day in-
tervals. Both adults incubate
the eggs. The young hatch at
staggered intervals.
The parents feed their
down-covered chicks predi-
gested food for six weeks.
Even after they are fully
fledged, the young stay with
their parents until autumn.
Above: Two
or three egret
chicks born
each season
are ready to
leave their
parents by
autumn.
" CARD 80
EUROPEAN KESTREL
___________________________________ __
ORDER
Falconiformes
FAMILY
Falconidae
GENUS & SPECIES
Falco tinnunculus
The kestrel is one of Europe IS most common birds of prey. A familiar
sight hovering above country roads, it also readily nests in the
middle of towns and cities.
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: Head and body 12-14 in.
Tail 4-6 in.
Weight: Male, 5-9 oz. Female,
5
1
/2-10 oz.
Wingspan: 2-21/2 ft.
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: April to July.
Incubation period: 27-29 days.
Clutch size: 3-6 eggs.
Fledging period: 27-32 days.
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Territorial, partly migra-
tory; hunts by hovering.
Diet: Chiefly voles, mice, and other
small rodents.
Lifespan: Usually 3-4 years.
Oldest bird recorded 16 years.
RELATED SPECIES
The 38 species in the genus Falco
include the lesser kestrel, F.
naumanni, and the American
kestrel, F. sparverius.
Range of the European kestrel.
DISTRIBUTION
Europe south of Siberia, Africa, and east Asia. Northeastern
populations winter in central Europe, the Mediterranean, and
north Africa. Asian birds winter in India and southern China.
CONSERVATION
Despite its loss of habitat, the kestrel is widespread and
common. Nearly 250,000 breeding pairs live in Europe.
FEATURES OF THE EUROPEAN KESTREL
Male: Blue-gray
head, rump,
and tail.
Nest: Does not build its
own, but occupies another
bird's unused nest, or uses
a ledge or crevice in a cliff.
Even nests on buildings.
Both sexes: Heavily barred brown plumage
with reddish back and paler underparts.
Black cheek-flashes and bar
on tail feathers.
©MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200311 PACKET 31
The kestrel is able to hover, apparently motionless,
in even the strongest winds. With subtle
adjustments in the trim of its wings and tail,
the kestrel can keep its head perfectly
still while watching for the movements
of its prey below.
The kestrel prefers to live in
the open countryside for
hunting. During breeding sea-
son, however, it prefers uncul-
tivated grasslands, farmland,
heaths (low-growing shrubs),
and marshes.
The European kestrel hunts
in a wide range over cliffs and
coastal dunes, rivers, and
wooded valleys. The kestrel
One of the few hovering
birds of prey in Europe, the
kestrel is widespread and
common. It may be seen
hunting year-round over
open land. It often hunts
near roads, picking off ro-
has also learned to hunt suc-
cessfully in human habitats
such as town parks and busy
roadsides.
In its southern range, pairs
stay in the same loose territo-
ries year-round. In the north,
the kestrel migrates south in
fall and north in spring.
In some northern areas, ma-
ture kestrels do not migrate.
dents as they run across. In
fl ight, it can be identified by
its long tail and long, point-
ed wings.
The female's barred tail
which is tipped with a black
band serves to distinguish
her from other small birds
of prey.
& FEEDING
The kestrel hovers over grass-
land, looking for prey with its
acute eyesight. It hunts at
heights between 30 and 130
feet and may hover as high as
300 feet above short grass.
Field voles provide more
than 80 percent of the bird's
diet. It also eats mice, shrews,
moles, rats, frogs, and lizards.
On the ground, it feeds on
worms, insects, nestling birds,
or small birds such as the
meadow pipit. The kestrel is
not well adapted for attacking
while in the air.
When it has spotted prey on
the ground, the kestrel folds
its wings and dives down. It
may slow down to adjust its
aim before completing the
Left: The kestrel hovers by moving
forward at the same speed as the
wind it flies against.

The male's display flights in-
clude mock dives at a sitting
female, who then takes to the
air to fly with the male.
The kestrel does not build a
nest. Instead it lays its eggs on
rocky ledges, crevices, or in
tree holes. It also uses old
nests of other large birds such
as crows and pigeons. In areas
where trees and cliff ledges are
not available, the kestrel nests
in heather.
The European kestrel mates
in April, laying eggs at two- or
three-day intervals. The fe-
male incubates the eggs while
the male brings food. At first
only the female feeds the
young, but later as the chicks'
appetites grow, both parents
swoop, its sharp talons ex-
tended to seize the prey.
Where prey is plentiful, the
kestrel also hunts from a perch,
making shallow dives whenever
it spots a sign of food.
feed them.
The young leave the terri-
tory by late summer, but a
few may stay well into fall.
Above: A male kestrel returns
from a hunt gripping a lizard in
his hooked bill.
It usually eats its kill at a
roost or nest, or sometimes,
at the sight of the kill.
Above: The parents tear prey into
tiny scraps that can be dropped
into the mouths of the hungry,
clamoring chicks.
KESTREL & MAN
Although it was once hunted
by gamekeepers, the kestrel is
welcome by farmers because
it controls rodents and insects
from destroying farm crops.
But the kestrel was affected
by pesticide poisoning when
its prey swallowed DDT and
other chemicals. The kestrel
eats such a wide variety of
food that it was not as badly
affected by the toxins as other
falcons were. With greater
control of farming pesticides,
the kestrel's numbers have in-
creased steadily.
The kestrel has adapted
very well to humans in its
habitat, unlike many other
birds of prey. Grassy spaces
along roads provide homes
for voles and mice for the
kestrel to hunt. The kestrel
will also search for food and
nesting sites in towns.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The kestrel is also called
"windhover" and "stand-
gale" for its ability to hover.
• The kestrel nests on city
tower blocks and church
spires throughout Europe.
One pair even nested in a
tower of the House of
Lords, in London, England.
• In west, central, and
southern Africa, the female
kestrel sports the same
slate-gray head and tail
plumage as the male
kestrel does.
• Vole populations rise and
fall in four-year cycles, pro-
ducing similar fluctuations
in the kestrel's numbers.
• Kestrels living in the city
produce fewer young.

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