There are over 10,000 known species of bird in the world and perhaps just over 21,000 sub-species. It is highly likely that there are still many more yet to be discovered and named especially in more remote islands, jungles and mountain forests.
Every bird has a story to tell. Here are some of the more unusual facts about some of my favourite ones.
Let’s start with something familiar, the mute swan. It is one of the UK’s largest and heaviest species that still has the ability to fly. A typical swan will weigh in at 10kg; the equivalent of about 8 standard bags of flour! And one swan is covered with about 24,000 feathers – some to keep it warm, others to help keep it dry and some that enable it to fly. The noise they make is actually the feathers in their wings, and can be heard up to half a mile away.
Another popular British bird is the peregrine. It is not only found in the UK, but in every continent from South America to Australasia, with the exception of Antarctica. Until quite recently peregrines were reported at hunting speeds of over 100 miles per hour; but recent surveys have indicated that their dive speed is probably nearly double that – at a massive 200 mph. With this momentum peregrines normally knock their prey out instantly on contact with their talons. According to researchers at Lund University, their visual power is incredible too, they can process images so fast they would have to get to 129 frames per second before the image they were seeing was in constant motion. In other words the world around them appears to be stationary, which is a huge benefit when catching prey!
What about a couple of more exotic species?
The Cuban bee hummingbird is the smallest bird species on the planet at 2.2 inches (5.5 cm) – approximately twice the size of a UK bumblebee and smaller than some tropical insect species. They pollinate typically just 10 flower species, 9 of which are endemic to Cuba. The bee hummingbird collects nectar and in doing so brushes up on the flower and collects pollen too, helping some very rare plant species to survive as they feed. At 1.95 grammes they weigh the same as half a teaspoon of sugar!
And finally, we have the amazing golden eagle, which soars across mountains in North America, Asia, and Europe on outstretched wings of more than 6 feet. They can live as pairs for 20 years or more and go back to using the same nest sites year after year. A typical cliff based nest will be 1.2 metres across and up to 2 metres deep. The largest ever recorded nest, found in Scotland, was 45 years old and 4.6 metres deep. A typical pair will stay in the same area for life and cover a feeding area of 60 square miles.
Has this caught your imagination?
– Learn about your favourite birds by logging on to:
–Join The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)’s Big Garden Birdwatch and start recording what you see around your home each year:
– Get involved in the RSPB’s #BreakfastBirdWatch weekdays 8am-9am: launched in March to keep you close to nature and give you a chance to share your winged-wildlife encounters with others during this stay-at-home period:
–Record birds from your local area more frequently:
www.brc.ac.uk>irecord Have fun finding out facts about UK birds.
Why don’t you get in contact with A Rocha UK and tell us some amazing facts we might not know?
This blog was written by Andy Lester for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and Health’. Andy is the Head of Conservation at A Rocha UK.