Sie sind auf Seite 1von 20


, , ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
~ Passerifarmes
~ Carvidae
Nucifraga caryacatactes
Like its relatives the jay and the magpie, the Eurasian nutcracker is a
member of the crow family. It gets its name from its habit of cracking
open nuts and pinecones to get at the nutritious kernels inside.
Length: 12-13 in.
Weight: About 6 oz .
Wingspan: 21-22 in.
Breeding season: March to May.
Eggs: 3 or 4; white with bluish
green tinge and gray-brown spots.
Incubation: 17-19 days.
Fledging period: 3-4 weeks.
Habit: Lives in pairs or small family
groups. Active by day.
Diet: Pine kernels or hazelnuts;
also insects and berries.
The Eurasian nutcracker belongs to
the crow family. Its closest relative
is Clark's nutcracker, Nucifraga
columbiana, of North America.
Range of the Eurasian nutcracker.
Found in conifer forests in Eurasia, from Scandinavia and the
Alps eastward to Kamchatka, Korea, and Japan. Also occurs in
the high mountains of southern Asia and on Taiwan.
Fast-growing conifer forests recover rapidly when trees are cut
down, so the bird's habitat is in little immediate danger from
human interference.
Eggs: 3 or 4
per clutch.
White with
bluish green
tinge and
small gray-
Wings: Broad. Dark brown to
black. White speckles on the un-
derside are revealed only in flight.
Bill: Long and
sturdy for cracking
nuts and pinecones
against rocks and pry-
ing out kernels.
Throat: Contains a pouch that
can expand to hold dozens of pine
kernels at once.
Plumage: Chocolate brown with
large white flecks.
This North American species also
hoards food in conifer forests. Its
body plumage is mainly gray.
Tail: Short. Dark brown to
black with white on tips of
feathers and under tail.
0160200591 PACKET 59
During harsh winters, food becomes scarce in the
snow-covered forests of the north. In order to avoid
starvation, many birds fly south to warmer regions. But
the Eurasian nutcracker has a different solution to this
problem. It stores up food during summer and fall and
hides it carefully from other animals. With this stockpile
of food, it is able to survive the icy winter months.
The Eurasian nutcracker lives in
conifer forests throughout the
northern part of its range. In
the southern part, it can also
be found in mountainous re-
gions covered with woodland.
These forests contain the pine
trees that provide the bird with
its staple food-the nutritious
kernels of pinecones.
Conditions in these forests
change dramatically with the
seasons. Food is plentiful from
late spring through fall. Birds
can easily find an abundance of
nuts, berries, and insects. But by
the first snowfalls of early winter,
most of the fruit is gone, and
the insects are dead or in hid-
ing. Throughout the winter and
until the middle of spring, there
is nothing for birds to eat. In or-
der to avoid starvation, most
birds fly south.
The Eurasian nutcracker, how-
ever, does not need to migrate
because it prepares for winter
by storing food during the sum-
mer and fall. With this stockpile
of food, the nutcracker is able
to survive through the winter
and into the middle of spring,
when fresh food becomes avail-
able again.
The pine kernels that form the
bulk of the Eurasian nutcracker's
diet have a very high energy
value. One ounce of pine seeds
provides 150 calories; an ounce
of insects has about 20 percent
less. Seeds provide less protein
than insects but more carbohy-
drates, which the Eurasian nut-
cracker needs for energy in its
cold habitat.
The nutcracker slips its long,
pointed bill between the layers of
a pinecone and pries out the ker-
Left: In winter the Eurasian
nutcracker may move from pine
forests to woods at lower altitudes.
If one Eurasian nutcracker
sees another nearby, it will
stop burying its food and
wait for the other bird to go
away so as not to reveal the
location of its food store.
It is not known how the
nutcracker remembers where
it has buried its food. It was
thought that the bird used
nels. Or it hammers a cone or
a nut against a log or a rock to
crack it open. It uses such force
that the sound can be heard
over 150 feet away.
In parts of Scandinavia, some
nutcrackers feed mainly on ha-
zelnuts. But most nutcrackers
prefer pine seeds. In fact, they
rely on these seeds so much that
some subspecies have developed
distinctively shaped bills to deal
with local pinecones, which may
vary in shape.
Right: When nuts and pinecones
are scarce, the nutcracker takes
seeds from orchard fruits.
smell to rediscover the sites,
but that would be impossible
when the food stores are cov-
ered with snow.
If there is a shortage of pine
seeds, the nutcracker may mi-
grate as far west as Great Brit-
ain to find an alternative food
source. It will feed on berries,
insects, and table scraps.
In fall the Eurasian nutcracker the food, and flies off to get an-
spends its time collecting and other load.
storing nuts and seeds. It stuffs The nutcracker has an amaz-
its throat pouch with food and ing ability to find its food stores.
lubricates the food with saliva One group of birds recovered
so it can be coughed up easily. 86 percent of their stores and
When its pouch is full, the bird even remembered which were
returns to its territory, buries empty and which were full. ---1
The Eurasian nutcracker pairs for
life and breeds in its own territo-
ry. Set in a pine tree, the nest is
made of sticks, stems, and mud
and is lined with grass and moss.
Since they have a secure food
supply, the adults can nest early
in the year, when temperatures
are still below freezing. As a re-
sult, the young birds are fully
fledged in time to gather their
own food stores for winter.
With most members of the
crow family, the female sits on
Left: The Eurasian nutcracker can
find its food store even when it is
buried under snow.
the eggs, while the male brings
her food. This is impossible for
the nutcracker, since the male
does not know where his mate's
food supply is hidden, and his
own hoard is too small to share.
So that each bird gets a chance
to feed, the male and female
nutcracker take turns incubat-
ing the eggs.
The parents feed the young
for up to three months. When
the stores of food are almost
used up, the parents forage for
food outside their territory. The
young finally leave the nest at
the end of summer.
"," CARD 242 I
" ' ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Oendrocopos minor
About the size of a sparrow, the lesser spotted woodpecker is the
smallest of the European woodpeckers. During the breeding season it
drums its bill against a tree, producing a sound that attracts a mate.
- - - - - - - - ~ ~ - - - ~ ~ ~ ..
Length: 5-6 in.
Wingspan: 10-11 in.
Weight: ~ - % oz.
Sexual maturity: 1-2 years.
Breeding season: Spring.
No. of broods: Usually 1.
Eggs: 4-6; white.
Incubation: 2 weeks.
Fledging period: 3 weeks.
Habit: Solitary, but forms pairs
during the breeding season.
Diet: Insects and their larvae.
Call: Slow peeping notes.
Lifespan: Oldest on record,
6 ~ years.
The 5 closely related species in
Europe include the great spotted
woodpecker, Oendrocopos major.
Range of the lesser spotted woodpecker.
Found in deciduous woodland, parks, and old orchards across
Europe and Asia, from Spain and Great Britain to eastern Si-
beria, and southeast to Iran. Also found in North Africa.
Although it suffers when dead trees are removed from forests,
the lesser spotted woodpecker appears to be in no danger over
its wide range.
Female: Same barred black-
and-white plumage as male.
Black-and-white head;
white underparts with
black streaks.
Eggs: 4 to 6;
white. Laid in
nest hole in
decaying tree.
Male: Plumage has black-and-white
barred pattern, especially noticeable in
flight. Unlike the female, the male has
a dull red crown.
Bill: Straight and very
strong. The sharp point is
adapted for chiseling into
hard wood.
Feet: 4 toes-2 face forward and 2
backward, to help the bird climb the
vertical and overhanging surfaces
of tree trunks. Sharp, curved claws
also provide grip.
Tail: Wedge-
shaped, with
stiffened feath-
ers. Acts as a
prop when the
is pecking or
climbing up
a tree.
0160200791 PACKET 79
The lesser spotted woodpecker is well known for the way in
which it hammers on the trunks of trees to remove the bark
and get at the insects inside. The bird is specially adapted
for this method of feeding. It has a thick bill with a sharp
point and very strong neck muscles. In addition, it has
a special system of shock absorbers inside its head
to cushion the blows and thereby protect the brain.
The lesser spotted woodpeck-
er is widely distributed through-
out Europe and Asia. It makes
its home in open woodland
and parkland as well as in ne-
glected orchards, where the
decaying trees provide a rich
source of food.
Below: The male lesser spotted
woodpecker can be distinguished
from the female by his red crown.
A shy bird, this woodpecker
usually remains hidden in the
tops of tall trees such as ash,
oak, and birch. It rarely ven-
tures near humans, except in
quiet areas with good tree
cover, such as large gardens
or country churchyards.
Right: The tail of the lesser spotted
woodpecker is stiffened to provide
support as the bird clings to a tree.
Woodpeckers play an impor-
tant role in woodland ecology
by helping to control the num-
bers of wood- and bark-boring
insects, which damage trees.
After the chicks have left the
nest, the adult woodpecker of-
ten uses the cavity as a shelter
during bad weather.
The black woodpecker, like
The lesser spotted woodpeck-
er can be found high in trees
in open wooded areas, park-
lands, churchyards, or old or-
chards. This shy bird is rarely
seen in urban areas, except at
the edges of large gardens.
L'hiS woodpecker's drum-
the closely related lesser spot-
ted woodpecker, has shock
absorbers inside its head. It
executes between 8,000 qnd
12,000 pecking movements
every day.
The lesser spotted wood-
pecker is able to drum its bill
against trees at a rate of up to
30 times per second.
ming sound can be heard in
spring. It is softer and faster
than the sound produced by
the great spotted woodpeck-
er. The two birds look similar,
but the lesser spotted wood-
pecker is much smaller and J
has heavily barred plumage.
The lesser spotted woodpecker
eats all kinds of insects and their
larvae. However, it is specially
adapted for feeding on insects
that live in the bark of trees.
Using its strong, pointed bill,
the bird strikes a trunk with a
series of hammering blows. It
then removes the bark, expos-
ing its prey, and extracts the
The generally solitary lesser
spotted woodpecker pairs up
for the spring breeding season.
To attract mates and to estab-
lish the boundaries of their ter-
ritories, both males and females
drum against the trunks of trees
with their bills. The drumming
sound is very soft but continues
for long periods, interspersed
insects from their boreholes with
its long, flexible tongue, which
has a rigid, barbed tip. Coated
with a sticky mucus produced
by special glands, the tongue is
ideal for picking up insects.
The lesser spotted woodpeck-
er usually feeds in the tree can-
opy. But it also forages in shrubs
closer to the ground.
left: The lesser
spotted wood-
pecker eats var-
ious insects, de-
pending on the
season. Cater-
pillars are pre-
ferred in spring,
when they may
be taken to the
nest by both
adults to feed
to the hungry
with spells of fluttering flight.
Once paired, the birds find a
nest site inside a decaying tree,
usually on the underside of a
dead branch about 6 to 25 feet
above the ground. They drill a
tiny entrance hole approximate-
ly one inch wide and then tun-
nel downward to hollow out a
cavity. The birds line the bottom
of the nest with wood chips that
are produced by their drilling.
In May the female lays four to
six white eggs. Both sexes take
turns incubating the eggs, which
hatch in about two weeks .. Fed
caterpillars and insects by both
of their parents, the chicks grow
very quickly. They are fledged
and ready to leave the nest in
about three weeks.
left: The durable nest hole may be
used by the same pair for years.
Sphenisciformes Spheniscidae
CARD 243
The king penguin is the second largest of all the penguins. It
breeds in huge colonies on sub-Antarctic islands, where the
offshore waters teem with the squid and fish on which it feeds.
,I.... Height: About 3 ft.
Weight: 20-45 lb.
Sexual maturity: 6 years.
Breeding season: November to
April. Breeds every 2 years.
No. of broods: 1.
Eggs: 1.
Incubation: 2 months.
Fledging period: 9-12 months.
Habit: Sociable.
Diet: Squid and fish.
Range of the king penguin.
There are 18 species of penguin,
including the gentoo, Pygoscelis
papua; the Adelie, P. adeliae; the
chinstrap, P. antarctica; and the
rockhopper, Eudyptes chrysocome.
The only other species in the genus
Aptenodytes is the emperor pen-
guin, A. forsteri.
Lives in the ice-free sub-Antarctic waters and breeds on islands
there. The largest breeding colonies exist on the South Georgia,
Kerguelen, Macquarie, and Marion islands.
Although the king penguin is a slow-breeding species and has
been threatened in the past by hunters, the population does
not appear to be in danger.
Wings: Powerful, stubby, and
flipperlike. Propel the bird rapidly
Plumage: Well-oiled feathers are
2 inches long and form a thick
mat over the entire body. This
coat keeps out the cold and wet
but retains heat on land and in
the water. The downy chick
takes up to a year to grow full
adult plumage.
Beak: Long,
curved. and sharp
for seizing,.prey.
Feet: Steer the penguin
through water when it
pursues prey. Contain-
ing many blood vessels,
they are used to incubate
the egg and warm the
PRINTED IN U.S.A. US P 6001 12 075 PACKET 75
The king penguin is exceptionally agile in the water. With
its streamlined body and powerful, flipper/ike wings, it can
swim underwater faster than many birds can fly. The king
penguin spends most of its life at sea. It moves onto the
ice-free islands of the far south only to molt and breed.
~ H A B I T A T
The king penguin lives in Ant-
arctica's oceans at latitudes of
about 40 degrees. In this forbid-
ding region, westerly gales howl
across the seas, and the long
winters are nearly sunless.
Since this penguin lives north
of the permanently frozen wa-
ters, it can find food throughout
the year. It stays mainly in the
The king penguin will dive
to a depth of 200 feet when
it is hunting. The bird's prey
includes squid that are three
feet long.
At the start of the mating
open sea, slipping gracefully
through the icy waters. By con-
trast, it moves clumsily on land,
with a laborious waddle.
The bird breeds in large colo-
nies on the windswept, muddy
shores of sub-Antarctic islands,
where only a few plants survive
in summer. In winter the islands
are covered with snow.
season the male king penguin
brays like a donkey while try-
ing to attract a female.
Although the king penguin
is nearsighted on land, it sees
much better underwater.
The king penguin is an excellent
hunter. The bird dives into the
sea and snatches fish with its
curved, sharp beak. Inside its
mouth and over its tongue are
protrusions that enable it to grip
slippery prey. The king penguin
forces excess salt water from its
mouth before swallowing.
From December to February
-the Antarctic summer-the
king penguin feeds around the
Falkland, South Georgia, and
South Sandwich islands. It hunts
as far south as Antarctica's pack
ice, preying on the many fish
Left: The king penguin flaunts its
head markings in courtship to at-
tract a mate.
that feed in the rich surface
waters, where phytoplankton
(marine plant life) multiplies in
the summer sunlight. Plentiful
food enables the penguin to
sustain a thick layer of body fat
that helps it survive in icy seas.
While hunting, the king pen-
guin is at risk from its greatest
enemy-the leopard seal. When
they see this predator, penguins
rush to the shore, beating the
water with their flippers. The
flurry and noise confuses the
seal, and only the weaker birds
are caught.
Right: The king penguin has thick
body fat and oily, matted plumage
to protect it from the cold.
Left: The king
penguin uses
its feet and tail
as a rudder to
propel itself
very quickly
through the
Shortly before the breeding sea-
son begins, the king penguin
moves onto land to molt. In
two weeks the old feathers are
replaced with new plumage.
The birds then begin courtship.
The female lays one egg once
every two years. Egg laying usu-
ally occurs in November, but it
may go on until April. After lay-
ing her egg, the female feeds at
sea for two weeks. During that
time the male incubates the egg
by placing it on his feet and in-
sulating it with a fold of his skin.
When the female returns, the
Left: A dense layer of down insu-
lates the offspring until it acquires
the sleek adult plumage.
two share the incubation duties.
The chick hatches in about
two months. Although it has a
thick layer of down, the parents
carry the chick on their warm
feet until it is large enough to
regulate its body temperature.
The parents feed their young
until it reaches 80 percent of the
adult body weight. The chick
then leaves its parents and hud-
dles with other chicks in a nurs-
ery, where it fasts during winter
until it is reduced to about 40
percent of the adult weight. The
chick reaches full adult weight
and develops adult plumage in
spring. By the next December, it
is fully fledged and independent.
'" CARD 244 I
, , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ~ ~
Aythya marila
The greater scaup is a hardy duck that spends much of the year
on large coastal bays. This bird swims steadily-even moving
through choppy waves when the weather is stormy.
Length: 17-20 in. Male larger
than female.
Wingspan: About 2 ~ ft.
Weight: 2 - 2 ~ lb.
Sexual maturity: 1-2 years.
Breeding season: May to July.
No. of broods: 1 .
Eggs: 6-15; light green.
Incubation: About 1 month.
Habit: Lives in flocks for most of
the year. Males and females pair
up in late winter.
Diet: Mollusks, crustaceans, in-
sects, aquatic plants, and seeds.
Call: During courtship male coos
and female utters a harsh "karr."
lifespan: Up to 19 years.
The greater scaup's closest relative
is the lesser scaup, Aythya affinis, of
North America.
Breeding range of
the greater scaup. Winter range.
Breeds from northern Eurasia west to Scandinavia, Iceland, and
across to northern Canada and Alaska. Winters in western parts
of Europe and Asia, the east and west coasts of North America,
and parts of Japan and China.
Although numbers have decreased in recent years, the greater
scaup appears to be in no danger in any part of its range.
Male: Pale gray upperparts with
fine black mottling. White belly,
sides, and flanks. Black head feath-
ers have a greenish gloss.
Bill: Pale blue in
both sexes.
Duckling: Coloring
similar to that of female.
Young males acquire
black-and-white adult
plumage after 1 year.
Female: Mostly
brownish with
white patch, or
"face," at base
of bill .
Legs: Short,
grayish blue. They
are set far back on
the body, facilitating
diving, but they make
the bird waddle awk-
wardly on land.
Body: Plump
and rounded
like most div-
ing ducks. The
head is set on
a short neck.
Wings: Short and pointed. Because the
bird is heavy and its wings are short, it
has to flutter over the surface of the
water before it can take off.
PRINTED IN U.S.A. US P 6001 12 076 PACKET 76
The greater scaup breeds in Arctic regions, from Siberia
to Scandinavia, Iceland, and northern Canada. In winter
this bird retreats to inland waters. It migrates as far south
as the Gulf of Mexico-although in that area its closest
relative, the lesser scaup, is more common in winter.

The greater scaup lives in large
flocks that rarely come to shore
except to breed. For much of
the year, these birds are found
in saltwater coastal areas, where
the water is generally no more
than 20 feet deep. The birds
float on waves in large groups,
or "rafts." Excellent divers, they
can remain submerged for as
long as 30 seconds, and they
swim quickly underwater.
During winter, flocks of great-
er scaup move south to inland
waters. They live on large lakes
and reservoirs, joining other div-
ing ducks like the ring-necked
duck. In spring, the bird returns
to the Arctic to breed at the
edges of freshwater lakes.

Male and female greater scaup
form pairs while still in their win-
ter quarters. They fly north to
their breeding grounds in early
spring and mate soon after ar-
riving. Each pair usually breeds
in its own territory. In places
where there are large popula-
tions, however, the birds breed
in colonies, often among sea-
birds such as gulls and terns.
The male stays with his mate
until she lays her eggs in late
May, but he does not help her
Left: Smaller than the male, the fe-
male greater scaup is dull brown,
aside from her white " face. II
incubate or rear the ducklings.
The female lays between 6 and
15 pale green eggs in a down-
lined ground hollow near fresh
water, where there is some cov-
ering vegetation. She incubates
the eggs for about a month.
The ducklings can dive a few
hours after hatching, but the fe-
male looks after them until they
can fly, about five to six weeks
later. The young are mature and
ready to breed within one or
two years.
Right: Greater scaup ducklings can
climb out of the nest when they are
only a few hours old.
---- ----
The greater scaup is not only
hunted for sport, it is also killed
for food.
The name scaup is thought
to be derived from scalp, an
old word for a mussel bed.
Mussels are a favorite food of
this duck.
During the mid-1970s, the
total North American popula-
tion of greater scaup was ap-
proximately 750,000.
The greater scaup eats animals
and plants. It dives for food rath-
er than dabbling as some ducks
do. It can feed in rough seas, un-
affected by either cold weather
or storms.
In winter the bird eats mostly
Left: The male's black head has a
greenish sheen.
The greater scaup is abundant
in winter along both coasts of
North America. Most numer-
ous in the north, it is outnum-
bered by the lesser scaup in
southern California and the
Gulf of Mexico.
Left: The fe-
male greater
scaup builds
her nest in a
hidden spot
on the ground.
She incubates
her eggs for
Iya month.
mollusks, especially mussels and
cockles, along with small crus-
taceans, worms, and insects. In
freshwater habitats it eats insect
larvae, worms, and such aquatic
plants as pondweed and sedges.
The greater scaup also eats un-
harvested seeds that are washed
into rivers.
While the two scaup species
are similar, the lesser scaup has
a purplish gloss on its head, a
steeper forehead, and a short-
er white wi ng stripe. In the
north the lesser scaup lives in
flocks on estuaries and ponds.
'" CARD 245 I
, , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Corvus frugilegus
The rook is found in wooded habitats and on farmland in Europe and
Asia. This sociable bird nests in a permanent colony called a rookery.
Its loud, echoing /I caw" is a familiar sound in the countryside.
Length: 1 ~ ft.
Wingspan: 3 ft.
Weight: About 1 lb.
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: March to June.
Eggs: Usually 3-5.
Incubation: 16-18 days.
Fledging period: About 1 month.
Habit: Highly sociable. Pairs nest in
large colonies.
Diet: Mostly insects and larvae,
grain, weeds, seeds, and fruit. Oc-
casionally takes eggs, nestlings,
mammals, reptiles, and fish.
lifespan: Oldest recorded, 22
years, but this is exceptional.
The rook is one of 4 crow species
that breed in Europe. There are 39
species in the genus Corvus.
Tail: Forms a neat
wedge shape
when fanned out.
Wings: Broad,
with upturning
feathers on tips.
Plumage: Glossy black
with purplish sheen. Loose
thigh feathers around the
legs. The juvenile has a
patch of bristly feathers
around its beak. These
feathers wear away as the
bird repeatedly digs its
beak into the ground to
find food.
Range of the rook.
Relatively common throughout northern and central Europe.
Found in Asia from Turkey and Pakistan to China and parts of
eastern Russia.
Populations have decreased since the 1960s. Loss of farmland,
the spraying of crops, and the disappearance of elm trees have
all contributed to the rook's decline.
Eggs: Pale greenish gray,
heavily flecked with gray
and brown. Usually 3 to 5
in a clutch.
Bill: Long and
straight, with a
pale, bare patch
of skin around the
0160200631 PACKET 63
The rook is one of the larger members of the crow family.
It is found mainly in areas of farmland. For centuries it
has been killed by farmers because of the damage it can
inflict on crops. But in reality this bird is as much a help
as a hindrance because it preys on insects that damage
crops. Without the rook, these insect pests could be
controlled only through the use of pesticides.
~ H A B I T A T
The rook is found in most of Eu-
rope and parts of Asia. It usually
nests in tall trees on the edge of
farmland or in small woods. It is
less frequently found in dense
woods, scrubland, and marsh-
land. But the bird is becoming
Right: The
rook's nest is a
loose, untidy
structure that
allows air to
circulate, keep-
ing the chicks
cool. In cold
weather, the
adult packs the
nest with grass
and moss.
increasingly common in gardens
and urban areas with trees.
The rook is a highly sociable
bird. It nests in permanent col -
onies called rookeries. The birds
feed in flocks, often with other
members of the crow family.
The rook eats almost anything,
enjoying a readily avai lable sup-
ply of insects, fruits, grai ns, and
seeds. It feeds on the ground,
using its strong beak t o turn
over rocks and lumps of soil
to find insects.
The rook prefers to feed on
plant matter, unlike the crow,
Left: The rook is often seen on farm-
land, where cultivated fields provide
it with a rich supply of food.
Right: A young rook stays in the
nest for about a month before it
tries to fly.
The expression "as the crow
flies" originally referred to the
steady flight of the rook.
In 1424, James I of Scotland
introduced a law designed to
eliminate rooks. Farmers were
encouraged to place nets over
their crops in order to trap and
kill rooks eating their grain.
The desertion of a rookery is
jackdaw, and starling-the birds
with which it is often seen feed-
ing. Occasionally the rook takes
eggs or young birds from nests,
and it sometimes hunts for fish,
small mammals, or reptiles.
Right: A large throat pouch allows
the rook to gather a mass of food
atone time.
considered a bad omen, like
rats leaving a sinking ship.
Colonies of rooks have a
"pecking order." The oldest
birds nest at the center of the
rookery, where they are shel-
tered from the wind.
Almost 7,000 nests were re-
corded in a rookery in Scot-
land in 1945.
The rook is easy to spot, espe-
ci ally when nesting in spring.
High in the trees, the rook-
ery' s untidy nests are cl earl y
visible. But the birds are often
heard before they are seen.
The rook's evening aeri al
display is very impressive. As
There may be several hundred
pairs of birds in a rook colony.
They usually return to the same
nest site to breed each year.
During courtship the male
feeds his intended mate, and
he bows and calls to her from
a nearby branch.
Both sexes build a large, loose
nest of sticks, lining it with grass,
leaves, and roots. If a pair returns
to an old nest and finds it dam-
aged, the first task is to repair it.
Often the couple steals material
from the nests of other rooks.
Despite the large numbers in
Left: Insects provide an abundant
source of protein and form a major
part of a chick's diet.
t he bird returns t o roost at
dusk, it wheels, dives, and
utters it s loud "caw" calls.
The rook is often confused
wi th the carri on crow. One
way to t ell t he two bi rds apart
is by t he bare patch of skin
around the rook's beak.
a rookery, each pair establishes
a small territory around its nest.
The birds vigorously defend the
territory, driving off any intrud-
ers with loud cawing.
The female lays three to five
eggs-usually in late March or
early April. She incubates them
for 16 to 18 days while the male
brings her food. When the nest-
lings hatch, both parents feed
them until they are ready to fly
in about a month. In large colo-
nies the competition for food is
very fierce, and the death rate
among chicks is high. One or
more chicks from each brood
fails to survive beyond the first
few months.
~ ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ~ - - - - ~ ~
Chickadees, which belong to the titmouse family, are some of
the best-loved birds in North America. Almost every part of the
United States and Canada has a resident species of chickadee.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Length: 4-6 in.
Wingspan: 5-7 in.
Weight: ~ - ~ oz.
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: March to June.
No. of broods: 1.
Eggs: Usually 5-8, but up to 13;
white, finely speckled with brown.
Incubation: 12-14 days.
Fledging period: 16-17 days.
Habit: Sociable, traveling in small
parties most of the year.
Diet: Small insects, caterpillars, spi-
ders, insect eggs, seeds, and fruit.
Call: Cheerful "chickadee-dee-dee"
and various piping notes.
Lifespan: Up to 12 years.
There are 45 species in the genus
Porus, but only 6, all from North
America, are called chickadees.
Black-capped chickadee: Has a black
cap, white cheek, and black bib. Its
back is gray, and its flanks are a yel-
lowish color.
Egg Whitish
with fine spots
or speckles in
various shades
of \}(Qwn. All
Range of chickadees.
Found from the tree line in northern Canada and Alaska south
throughout the rest of Canada and the United States, into parts
of Mexico.
Chickadees are adaptable and have learned to live close to hu-
mans. No species is currently in danger, but the Mexican chick-
adee is suffering from destruction of its habitat.
Mountain chickadee: Looks like the black-
capped chickadee but has white eyebrows
and gray flanks.
chickadee: Has a
brown cap, a rusty
back, and rusty
0160200881 PACKET 88
Chickadees are alert, inquisitive birds. They often form
the core of a large flock of foraging birds that includes
other small songbird species. When this flock travels
through the woods, each species seeks food in its own
way, but there are many eyes watching for predators.
There are six chickadee species,
and all are social birds. For most
of the year, they travel in small
parties, but they break up into
pairs during the nesting season.
Members of a party are contin-
ually calling to one another to
keep in contact.
A flock of foraging chickadees
is often joined by small wood-
peckers, nuthatches, kinglets,
and creepers. The whole group
moves noisily through the for-
est, looking for food.
Chickadees are agile birds and
frequently hang upside down,
peering under leaves or exam-
ining the crevices in pinecones
in search of food. They are also
very alert and quick to notice a
predator. If they discover a fox
or an owl, they may gather to
scold it.
Chickadees usually remain in
the same area year-round. But
in some years, for no apparent
reason, they stage large-scale
flights from the northern parts
of their range in the fall. When
these irruptions (irregular migra-
tions) happen, chickadees may
turn up far south of thei r nor-
mal range. Some birds may
even appear in the center of
large American cities.
Right: These Carolina chickadees,
like all young chickadees, have the
same color patterns as their parents.
Chickadees begin nesting the
year after they hatch. A pair
separates from the flock with
which it has spent the winter
and establishes its territory. At
the center is the nest, which is
usually an abandoned wood-
pecker hole or a birdhouse. Oc-
casionally the pair excavates its
own cavity in the soft wood of
a decayed tree stump.
There is one brood a season.
The female lays one egg a day
Left: In fall and winter, the black-
capped chickadee feeds on berries
and other fruit, as well as seeds.

Chickadees are relatively tame
and are easy birds to find be-
cause they are constantly call -
ing "chickadee" to each other.
When they are foraging in the
forest, you may be able to lure
them into view by imitating a
bird's squeaks of distress. Prob-
ably, they will come quickly to
until she has laid a full clutch,
usually between five and eight
eggs. Both parents incubate
the eggs for about two weeks.
They then feed the chicks until
the young leave the nest after
nearly three weeks. The family
group usually breaks up soon
after the offspring fledge. The
original pair remains in its ter-
ritory, and it is joined there in
early fall by wandering young
birds from other broods.
Right: Like other chickadees, the
Carolina chickadee often nests in
a hole in a rotten tree stump.
investigate your cry. As they
gather and give alarm notes,
they may attract other birds.
In the spring nesting season,
chickadees are more secretive
and harder to find. They may
even quietly raise a family in a
garden without anyone know-
ing that they are there.
Chickadees spend most of their
waking hours foraging. They
search in the branches, leaves,
and bark of trees, as well as in-
side pinecones, for small insects,
spiders, caterpillars, and insect
eggs. Because of this diet, chick-
adees are frequently useful in
combating outbreaks of insect
pests such as gypsy moths and
The word chickadee is an old
American folk name for these
birds. It was first used in print
in 1838 by John James Audu-
bon. Before that time the birds
were called titmice.
When a female chickadee is
threatened while incubating
her eggs in her nest, she may
utter a loud, snakelike hiss. This
sound is often enough to scare
off any would-be nest robber.
Where the ranges of differ-
codling moths. In addition to
insects, these birds eat fruit if it
is available, and they feed on
many different kinds of seeds.
Since chickadees are very in-
quisitive, they are often the first
birds to discover a bird feeder.
At the feeder they eat not only
seeds but also peanut butter,
suet, and bread.
ent chickadee species adjoin
or overlap, the birds occasion-
ally interbreed. This is an indi-
cation of how closely related
they all are.
The Mexican chickadee can
be found not only in Mexico
but also in southeastern Ari-
zona and southwestern New
Mexico. It is the only chicka-
dee in Mexico's mountain for-
ests, which have been partially
destroyed in recent years.
Falconiformes Accipitridae
Stephanoaetus coronatus
The crowned eagle is a huge, powerful bird that lives
in forested areas of Africa, where it preys on mammals
as large as monkeys and small antelope.
Length: Male, 2 ~ ft. Female, 3 ft.
Wingspan: 6 ~ ft.
Weight: Male, 8 lb. Female, 8 ~ lb.
Sexual maturity: 3-5 years.
Breeding season: Dry season.
Eggs: Usually 1-2.
Incubation: 7 weeks.
Fledging period: Almost 4 months.
Habit: Pairs for life. Often hunts
in pairs.
Lifespan: Average, 15 years.
The crowned eagle is the only spe-
cies in its genus. Its closest relatives
are in the genus Spizaetus, which
contains the ornate hawk eagle,
the mountain hawk eagle, and
the crested hawk eagle.
Range of the crowned eagle.
The crowned eagle is found in forested areas of Africa, from
Guinea in the west to Kenya in the east and south to the coast
of South Africa's Cape Province.
The crowned eagle is in no immediate danger and appears to
be reasonably numerous. Its future may be threatened, howev-
er, by continued destruction of its habitat.
Crest: Raised
when the eagle
is alarmed or
Adult plumage: Darker than any other forest
eagle of Africa. Back is mainly slate black.
Buff or reddish underparts with black bars
provide perfect camouflage.
from adult by
much paler
plumage and a
white crest.
Talons: Large and more pow-
erful than those of any other
African eagle. Used to kill prey.
Wings: Short
and very broad.
The crowned eagle is a skillful, cunning hunter. It perches
high in a tree, without moving, waiting for prey to appear.
When it spots a victim, it swoops down to attack. To tackle
larger prey, the eagle joins forces with its mate. While one
bird distracts the prey, the other one moves in for the kill.
~ H A B I T A T
The crowned eagle favors dense
forest and open woodland. It is
also found in savanna and semi-
arid regions in a range that ex-
The crowned eagle is larger and
darker than any other African
forest eagle. Its buff or reddish
underparts and its mostly slate-
black plumage provide excel-
lent camouflage. When alarmed
or excited, this eagle will raise
When defending its nest,
the crowned eagle has been
known to attack humans.
Monkeys are not frightened
of a perched crowned eagle,
and they even bait the bird
tends from Guinea south to the
coast of South Africa. The eagle
is most common in the high-
land forests of Kenya and Zaire.
its black-tipped double crest.
The crowned eagle regularly
patrols its territory, uttering loud
calls to warn off intruders, par-
ticularly other eagles. During
display flights, pairs of eagles
soar over the forest canopy.
by pulling its legs. The mon-
keys are more alarmed by an
eagle in flight.
Despite its large size, the
crowned eagle moves easily
through dense forest.
The crowned eagle hunts in the
early morning or late evening,
preying on mammals up to five
times its weight. Perched in a
tree, the eagle watches for prey
and then pounces on its victim.
Often a pair hunts together,
with one eagle attracting the
attention of the prey while its
mate attacks.
When its prey is light enough
to carry, the eagle flies to its
nest or a high branch to de-
vour the whole animal, includ-
ing the bones. It tears apart
larger prey on the ground and
carries the pieces into the trees
to be eaten later.
Left: When it is alarmed or excited,
the crowned eagle raises its black-
tipped double crest.
Right: The crowned eagle is most
abundant in areas where monkeys
are common.
The crowned eagle pairs for life.
Courtship begins with the male's
display flight. If he attracts a fe-
male, she may join him in flight.
The male dives toward her, and
she responds by showing him
her talons. The pair may then
lock talons and cartwheel to-
gether through the air.
The two birds spend up to five
months constructing a five-foot-
wide nest in the fork of a tree.
It is made of twigs, which the
birds carry in their beaks, and
branches, which they carry in
their claws. The birds spend
three months each year rebuild-
ing the nest until it is over seven
feet wide and three feet deep.
In the dry season the female
Left: The young eagle sometimes
remains with its parents for olmost
a year.
lays one or two eggs and incu-
bates them for seven weeks. The
male brings her food and may
incubate while she hunts.
When two chicks are born,
one generally dies. The female
guards the survivor fiercely dur-
ing its first 10 days and may
even threaten the male when
he brings food. The eaglet can
feed itself at six weeks old, but
the mother continues to feed it
for another two weeks.
At 11 weeks old, the eaglet
gains the adult plumage. It can
fly at almost four months but still
relies on its parents. Birds in East
Africa are independent at about
7 to 11 months old, later than
those that live in South Africa.
The long period of parental care
prevents adults from breeding
more than once every two years.
'" CARD 248 I
, , ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - ~
Falco rusticolus
The gyrfalcon is the largest and most powerful of all the fa/cons.
A formidable hunter, it dominates the skies of its home in
the remote, frozen wasteland of the Arctic.
Length: About 2 ft . Female larger
than male.
Wingspan: 4-5 ft .
Weight: 2-4 lb.
Sexual maturity: 2 years.
Mating season: March to April.
Eggs: 2-7, usually 3-4.
Incubation: 4 weeks.
Fledging period: 7 weeks.
Habit: Solitary or in pairs. Some
young birds migrate.
Diet: Mainly birds such as grouse,
but also mammals, amphibians,
fish, and insects.
Call: Low-pitched, gruff call during
the breeding season.
Other close relatives in the same
genus are the peregrine falcon,
Falco peregrinus, and the saker fal-
con, F. cherrug.
L'_ ' _ ~
Range of the gyrfalcon.
Found in Arctic regions of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland,
Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and much of northern Asia.
The population is difficult to estimate because of the gyrfal-
con's remote habitat. But the bird's numbers seem to be larg-
er than previously thought, with 600 to 1,000 breeding pairs
in Arctic Europe alone.
Bill: Hooked tip of upper mandible
suitable for ripping flesh.
Plumage: May be snowy
white, light gray, or brownish
gray, Arrowhead-shaped
markings on chest.
Tail feathers:
Long and broad,
often barred. Ex-
tend beyond
wing feathers
when the bird
Flight: Fast and sustained. Bird pro-
pels itself on slow, shallow wing
beats. Often soars and glides
Eggs: From 2 to 7,
but usually 3 or 4.
Buff-colored, with
brown speckles.
PRINTED IN U.S.A. US P 6001 12 078 PACKET 78
The majestic gyrfalcon is one of the few birds of prey
active during the day that is able to survive the severe
winter weather of its Arctic habitat. The gyrfalcon's
great size helps to distinguish it from other members of
the falcon family. The bird is often difficult to recognize,
however, because its plumage may be anyone of three
colors: snowy white, light graYt or darker, brownish gray.
The gyrfalcon frequents inac-
cessible mountainous areas in
t he chilly northern wastelands
of the Arctic. It is also found in
more hospitable open tundra
(vast treeless regions) and may
live at the edges of coniferous
forests. In addition, the gyrfal-
coin makes its home on rocky
Arctic coasts and islands, where
it preys on nesting seabirds.
Most gyrfalcons stay in the
same place all year. But some
birds-especially juveniles a
year or two old-move south-
ward in winter when prey be-
comes relatively scarce. These
birds settle on coasts, steppes,
marshland, or farmland. Gyr-
falcons from Greenland may
spend the winter in Iceland,
and small numbers may even
migrate as far south as Ireland
or the northern United States.
The gyrfalcons return to the
north in the spring.
Right: The sharp-sighted gyrfalcon
sits on a perch watching for prey.
The gyrfalcon preys mainly on
ptarmigans and other grouse. In
coastal areas, it also hunts gulls,
snow geese, auks, ducks, and
diving or wading birds.
The gyrfalcon watches for its
prey from a high cliff ledge or
tree. Then it swoops down and
launches a surprise attack from
behind. It has great stamina and
may chase a bird for a number
of miles. Some birds will try to
escape by soaring higher than
the falcon, but the latter simply
climbs rapidly to catch it.
Gyrfalcon pairs sometimes
hunt together, with one bird
Left: The sturdily built gyrfalcon is
a very powerful flier, with strong,
broad wings.

driving prey into the path of the
other. In winter, when prey is
scarce in the skies, gyrfalcons
may hover over scrub to flush
out grouse.
The gyrfalcon returns to its
perch or nest to consume its
catch. It bites off the head and
wings, plucks out the feathers,
and then eats the whole body.
After digesting the nutritious
parts, it coughs up the bones.
The gyrfalcon also feeds on
lemmings, ground squirrels,
and hares. When other food is
scarce, it may eat fish, amphib-
ians, and insects.
Right: In inland areas up to 90 per-
cent of the gyrfalcon 's diet consists
of grouse.

; ,
~ . ~
I 1
The gyrfalcon's name may
originate from the Old Norse
word geirr, meaning "spear."
This refers to the spearhead-
shaped markings on the gyr-
falcon's breast.
Falconers once trained the
gyrfalcon to pursue kites and
herons-birds it would not
normally ki ll in the wild.
In January or February the male
gyrfalcon starts defending a ter-
ritory from other males. If the
female has migrated south, she
returns in February or March.
The birds then perform display
flights, rising to great heights
and diving toward the nest site.
The nest is usually on a cliff
ledge or rocky outcrop. But the
bird may nest in a tree or use
the old nest of a raven.
The female lays two to seven
eggs at three-day intervals. She
With its slow, shallow wing
beats, the gyrfal con appears
clumsier than a peregrine fal-
con, but in level flight it actu-
ally flies faster than its relative.
The offspring from the same
brood may be different colors.
Some are white, others are
light gray, and still others are
brownish gray.
incubates them for one month,
while the male feeds her.
The female broods her creamy
white chicks closely, covering
them with her wings to protect
them from the cold. At first the
male hunts alone for his fami ly,
but soon the female joins him.
Both adults feed their offspring
bits of flesh. From a clutch of
seven, usually only two or three
chicks survive. After five weeks
they have all their feathers, and
they can fly two weeks later.
'" CARD 249 I
" ~ _________________________________ G_R_O_U_P_2_:_B_IR_D_S __ ~
"1IIIIIIII Falconiformes "1IIIIIIII Accipitridae Hieraaetus fasciatus
Although it is not as large as some eagles, Bonelli ~ eagle is a
remarkably fierce and powerful hunter. It darts out from behind
mountain ridges or rocky outcrops to seize its unsuspecting prey.
- - - - - - - - ~ . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Length: 2 - 2 ~ ft. Female larger
than male.
Weight: 35-55 lb.
Wingspan: 5-6 ft.
Sexual maturity: 4-5 years.
Breeding season: February to May.
No. of broods: 1 .
Eggs: 1-3, usually 2.
Incubation: 6 weeks.
Fledging period: 2 months.
Habit: Solitary or forms permanent
pairs. Highly territorial.
Diet: Medium-size birds and mam-
mals. Some small reptiles.
lifespan: 20 years.
The closest relative is the African
hawk eagle, Hieraaetus spilogaster,
which was formerly regarded as a
Range of Bonelli's eagle.
Found from southern Europe and North Africa east to India and
southern China. An isolated race inhabits Indonesia.
Bonelli's eagle has been persecuted in Europe for many years. As a
result, numbers are low throughout the region, except in Spain,
where there are about 300 pairs. Numbers are still reasonable in
the eastern parts of this bird's range.
Head: Small and slender,
with the powerful, hooked
bill typical of eagles.
Body: Medium
size and slender.
Dark brown
wings are long
and fairly broad.
Breast is pale
with dark
Flight: Faster than most eagles. Similar
to a hawk's flight.
Adult: Flight reveals dark
bands on underside of
wings and narrow bars
across tail.
Wings and tail
are tipped with
broad black
Feet: Relatively large.
Long, powerful hind
toe has a stiff talon,
so the eagle can kill
prey large for its size.
Eggs: White with
traces of brown.
From a clutch
of up to 3 eggs,
usually only 1
chick survives.
Juvenile: Tawny
lower parts. Pale
wings and tail
with dark III..
bars. I
1 '
' ~ ~
PRINTED IN U.S.A. us P 6001 12069 PACKET 69
Bonelli's eagle is one of the most powerful of all birds
of prey. This medium-size, slender eagle regularly kills
animals that are as heavy or even heavier than itself.
A very agile flie" Bonelli's eagle soars to great heights.
During the breeding season the bird patrols its territot'Yt
circling and wheeling in the air to defend its nest site.
~ H A B I T S
Bonelli's eagle frequents moun-
tains and rocky terrain, broken
by steep cliffs and covered with
sparse woodland. Outside the
breeding season, it hunts over
open country.
This bold eagle defends its
nest site against intruders of all
sizes, including golden eagles,
griffon vultures, and other birds
of prey. Breeding pairs are very
territorial, circling above their
nests sites to proclaim owner-
ship. In the process, the pair
reinforces its bond.
Sometimes a pair engages in
a wild aerial display. Each bird
plummets from a great height
on closed wings, then pulls out
of the dive with its wings out-
stretched, and finally circles to
regain its height. One bird may
carry a branch high into the air
and drop it to its partner, who
spins down to catch the branch
as it falls. The entire display may
be repeated 10 times in a row.
Right: With its tawny plumage, a
young Bonelli 's eagle is easy to mis-
take for a different species.
Bonelli's eagle constructs a large
nest that may be up to six feet
across. Both male and female
build the nest, using branches
up to three feet long and one
inch thick. They may begin to
construct the nest up to four
months before the eggs are laid.
A pair may build as many as five
nests over the years, or it may
reuse the same nest year after
year, adding to it each time. The
nest is usually lined with a few
sprays of foliage and set high on
a cliff ledge or sometimes at the
top of a tall tree.
Although both sexes incubate
Left: A bold and successful preda-
tor, Bonelli's eagle keeps a sharp
lookout for prey.
Bonelli's eagle is an excel-
lent flier. It has been sighted
passing under a flying jack-
daw, turning upside down in
midair, and then seizing the
smaller bird in its talons.
Bonelli's eagle is named af-
ter the 18th-century Italian
the eggs, the female performs
most of the task. She sits on the
eggs throughout the night and
for up to 90 percent of the day,
while the male feeds her. When
he relieves her on the nest, she
sometimes goes off to catch her
own prey.
Two young usually hatch, but
in most cases only one chick sur-
vives. The other generally dies
of starvation. The survivor is al-
ways the chick that has hatched
first. Stronger and larger than
the second hatchling, the first
chick may even kill its sibling in
order to receive more food.
Right: The parents supply their big,
downy chick with small prey for six
to eight weeks.
naturalist Franco Andrea Bo-
nelli, who sent a specimen
from Sardinia to the French
ornithologist Louis Vieillot.
Vieillot was the first person to
describe the species scientifi-
cally, and it was his idea to
name the eagle after Bonelli.
Bonelli's eagle generally relies
on surprise attacks when hunt-
ing. Concealing itself in a tree,
it dives to the ground to seize
mammals and birds. It catches
birds as they take off or chases
them in flight. This eagle also
patrols a regular "beat" along
mountainsides, gliding low to
the ground and surprising prey
from behind a rocky ridge or
outcrop. When a pair hunts to-
gether, one bird chases the vic-
tim into its partner's path.
Bonelli's eagle preys mainly
Left: At the
nest the female
Bonelli's eagle
does most of
the work. She
shields her off-
spring from the
effects of wind,
rain, and sun.
on medium-size mammals and
birds, but it sometimes takes
lizards and snakes as well. Bird
prey includes larks, partridges,
ducks, gulls, and some species
as large as herons. Mammal
prey varies in size from gerbils
and rats to rabbits and hares.
Unlike several larger eagles,
which eat carrion (dead animal
flesh), Bonelli's eagle only takes
live prey. Because of its attacks
on game birds, domestic poul-
try, and rabbits, it has been per-
secuted in much of its range.
Rupic% rupic% , R. peruviono
Cock-of-the-rocks are named for the courtship display of the male.
He struts around on a rocky outcrop in the forest, showing
off his bright plumage to attract a mate.
Length: 12-15 in.
Sexual maturity: Unknown.
Breeding season: Mainly February
to July.
Eggs: Usually 2; white, with dark
spots and blotches.
Incubation: 3-4 weeks.
Fledging period: 3-6 weeks.
Habit: Mainly solitary, but males
form groups to display.
Diet: Fruit and insects.
Call: Usually quiet. Noisy squeaks,
squeals, and grunts at display area.
The 2 species of cock-of -the-rock,
Rupic% rupic% and R. peruviono,
are members of the Cotingidoe,
a diverse and colorful family of
birds consisting of 79 species in
28 genera.
Range of cock-of-the-rocks.
Found in rainforests in northern Brazil, Guiana, Venezuela,
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and northern Bolivia.
Exact numbers are not known, but cock-of-the-rocks are
thought to be fairly common in the areas they inhabit.
Both species are trapped for the pet trade but in fairly
small numbers.
Male: Bright orange
plumage, with barred
black and white
wi ngs. Black de-
tailing on t he
erect crest.
Females: Both species
are dull brown and
lack the erect orest
feathers of the males.
Male: Deep orange or red plumage
with black and gray wings. The short ,
sharp bill is almost completely
hidden by the crest.
0160200581 PACKET 58
There are two species of cock-of-the-rock-
the Guianan and the Andean. They are among
the most colorful and unusual birds in the world.
Both species inhabit the tropical rainforests of northern
South America. Despite their brilliant coloring, these
elusive birds are very difficult to observe in the dense,
lush vegetation of their natural surroundings.
~ H A B I T A T
With their swift, weaving flight,
cock-of-the-rocks have the mo-
bility they need to thrive in the
dense vegetation of their rain-
forest habitat. In spite of their
brilliant coloring, these birds
are difficult to see. They are
generally glimpsed only as a
quick flash of color. They are
easier to observe when they
gather in groups on rocky out-
crops to perform their court-
ship displays. Most of the time,
however, these shy birds stay
hidden in the forest canopy.
The Guianan cock-of-the-rock
is slightly more numerous than
the Andean cock-of-the-rock.
The two species are found in
separate parts of South Amer-
ica. The Guianan cock-of-the-
rock lives in lowland tropical
forests in southern Venezuela,
Colombia, Guiana, and north-
ern Brazil. It prefers areas with
rocky outcrops and boulders.
The Andean cock-of-the-rock
lives in cloud forest (rainforest at
high elevation) on the slopes of
the Andes Mountains in north-
western Venezuela and farther
south in Colombia, Ecuador,
Peru, and northern Bolivia. In
these areas plant growth is very
dense because the climate is
cool and moist and ample light
filters through the trees. The
Andean cock-of-the-rock lives
primarily in mountain ravines,
where it can find the nesting
sites it prefers. It is also found
on the banks of rocky streams,
rapids, and waterfalls.
Right: The female cock-of-the-rock
is a drab bird compared to her col-
orful mate.
Cock-of-the-rocks perch in the
lower branches of fruit trees and
dart from twig to twig to feed on
fruit. Their small, sharp beaks-
almost hidden by the feathers of
their crests- are excellent for
plucking small fruits from twigs
and branches.
Left: The orange Guianan species is
slightly more numerous than its red
Andean relative.
Naturalists named cock-of-
the-rocks for the male bird's
courtship display. While one
male displayed on the top of
a rock, other males appeared
to be trying to force him off
and take his place in a game
of "king of the castle."
Both species are targets for
In the early morning or late
evening, large numbers of birds
may gather together to feed in
the trees. Although cock-of-the-
rocks are wary birds, they some-
times search for food in places
that offer little cover, such as the
edge of a forest or a clearing.
Right: A shy bird, the vivid male
Andean cock-of-the-rock is a rare
and beautiful sight.
trappers. Their brilliant color-
ing makes them desirable for
the pet bird trade.
It is thought that the male
of the Andean species some-
times pairs up with another
male to perform his display.
The pair may also forage for
food together.
Left: The
female builds
her nest with-
out the help of
the male. She
chooses a site
high up on a
rock face and
may return to it
year after year.
Cock-of-the-rocks are known for
their highly elaborate courtship
displays. As the breeding season
begins, the colorful males and
drab females gather at leks (dis-
play areas in forest clearings) in
order to find mates. Sometimes
50 or more birds congregate to
take part in the displays.
The male cock-of-the-rock uses
his large, strong feet to clear veg-
etation from a small area known
as his court. When a female ar-
rives, he shows off his bright col-
ors by crouching and spreading
out his feathers. He tilts his head
to show off his crest, watching
the female's reaction to his dis-
play with his one exposed eye.
When a female is attracted to a
male, she flies down to join him
in his court.
Mating may then take place,
but it is often interrupted by the
aggressive, persistent display of
a rival male. After mating, the
male demonstrates no interest
in his partner. He takes no part
in rearing the chicks.
The female builds a semicircu-
lar nest of mud and small roots,
and she uses saliva to stick it to a
ledge or a crevice in a rock face.
The nest is often situated above
a rocky stream or in a niche in a
cave. Because such specific nest-
ing sites are preferred, a number
of nests may be built in one small
area, and a female may reuse the
same nest site each year.
After laying her brown-flecked
whitish eggs, the female sits on
them for three or four weeks un-
til they hatch. The chicks are fed
insects, frogs, and lizards until
they can fly.