What kind of bird is that?

How Can I Identify What Bird I Have Just Seen? 

Newly hatched birds are divided up into one of two categories.

Precocial birds are hatched with their eyes open and are able to move around such as ducklings and plover chicks. They are usually covered in down. They follow their parents around and can mostly find their own food. These are the type of chicks that come into care by well meaning people that think they are doing the right thing by "rescuing" the chicks. If you find chicks always check to see if the parents are around, they are usually close by.

Altricial birds are hatched with their eyes closed, they are totally dependent on the parents for food and some chicks in this category have no down at all such as lorikeets and rosellas.

When you are trying to identify a young bird, you have to ask yourself a number of questions to narrow down what it could be.

What kind of feet does it have? 
If the feet are webbed then it is a water bird of some sort, this helps them swim. Feet that are partially webbed are more likely to be found on birds that wade rather than swim such as a moorhen.

Duck Foot
How many toes does it have? 
Some birds have three toes forward and one facing back such as pigeons and magpies and my favourite bird the tawny frogmouth.
This shape is designed for perching on branches.
Other birds such as the kookaburra have the same toes but the second and third toe is partly joined.

Some birds have two toes forward and two backward. Birds such as cockatoos and parrots use their feet for holding onto their food.
Parrot Foot
Raptors, which are birds of prey such as eagles, falcons and hawks, have sharp talons that are designed to grip their prey and lock onto it.
Raptor Foot

Some birds have three toes forward and a shorter one facing back.

These birds spend a lot of time walking around such as wading birds.

What is the shape of its beak?

Is it narrow or wide? Short or long?

A honeyeater will have a long beak to enable it to drink the nectar from flowers, but a meat eater or raptor will have a hook on the end of his beak to enable it to tear the flesh from its kill.

Cockatoos and parrots have large, strong beaks that they use for opening seed pods, climbing from branch to branch and tearing off bark from trees.
Lorrikeets have a “fluffy” or “hairy” tongue that they use to collect nectar from flowers.

What colour is the Flange or Gape?
A Flange is the hinge of the beak. In some birds this is very bright so that when they open their mouth for food, the parents are more likely to feed it.
The Gape is the soft part on the inside of the mouth. 

Names of birds can sometimes be confusing such as Miner, Myna and Mynah.
The Noisy Miner is an Australian Native Bird.

We have had a few in care. They have a grey body, black above the eyes and on their cheeks. They are honeyeaters, they feed on nectar, fruit and insects.
The female builds the nest and sits on the eggs, but when hatched both parents feed the young.  

The Indian Myna (or Mynah) is Not Native to Australia.

They have a black head and throat and brown body.
Some people say that this bird is an "environmental disaster".
They aggressively defend their territory. During the breeding season the Indian Myna will attack other birds, even ones larger than they are, so as to take over their nests. If there are already eggs in the nest, the Indian Myna will throw them out.

Many native birds and animals have been killed or left homeless by this menace, they have been known to even evict possums and gliders.  

Some Interesting Facts.

Some seabirds have swollen nostrils which are used for processing salt.

Colourful gapes can tell a parent which chick has just been fed. When the chick is given food much of the blood is diverted from the mouth to their stomach. So the gapes of those chicks that are still hungry are the brightest.

Next time you are outside, just sit, watch and listen to nature. You will be amazed at what you discover.

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    An animal in our care.
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