Thursday, March 22, 2018

Largest Living Bird: Mute Swan

Mute swan with its iconic looks when swimming. Photo by: Yerpo

Mute swan (Cygnus olor) is another largest bird that still lives until today. The mute swan is one of the swan species that also member of the waterfowl that includes ducks, and geese. It is native to Eurasia, and (as a rare winter visitor) the far north of Africa. Anyway, they are introduced to North America, Australasia and southern Africa.

Mute swans can grow in number very rapidly. Being big in size make it have less predators. Another advantage is, it also produces large quantity of eggs in one breeding season. Mute swan are territorial bird and will protect its area so aggressively. It will chase away any other birds, dogs, or even human.

Taking flight for big bird will be little bit challenging. Photo by:

Female mute swan with its chicks. Photo by: Trachemys

In fact, in some places in North America, they are considered as invasive species (as they are not native) and their numbers keep on increasing. With aggressive behaviour they also become a threat to local species for breeding areas, but also in food sources. With their large appetite, they overgrazing vegetation that cause damage on aquatic habitat for the native species.

Mute swan was introduced to all their new territories to decorate large estates, city parks, and zoos in mid 1800s and through early 1900s. Some of them might escape and formed their own breeding populations. Their numbers grow very rapidly with their behaviour might threaten native species.

The mute swan is a very beautiful bird with beautiful white plumage. Their orange colour bill appears brighter in contrast to the black colour border. While larger males also have a larger knob on their bill to appear more attractive to female. They form ‘S’ shape with their neck while swimming with wings slightly rise up – make it attractive to human. Their monogamous behaviour also make them as a symbol of long lasting marriage.

Chasing away other native species. Photo by: MLive

Mute swan with its majestic looks. Photo by: Kuribo

Their size typically ranges from 140 to 160 cm (55 to 63 in) long with a 200 to 240 cm (79 to 94 in) wingspan. The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds. The average weight for swan can range from 10.6 to 11.87 kg (23.4 to 26.2 lb). The largest male can reach up to 15 kg (33 lb), and the largest Polish male mute swan weighed almost 23 kg (51 lb).

The young birds are called cygnets have greyish colour. Anyway, they are able to move around the nest and ready to swim soon after they feathers dry. Young babies are ready to fly 65 days after hatching.

Even though there are considered as invasive in North America, back in their native areas (Eurasia), mute swans are protected to increase their numbers. Hopefully more studies will be carried out in order to help mute swan wherever they are.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Largest Living Bird: Wandering Albatross

Gliding through the air current. Photo by:

Wondering albatross is listed as one of the largest bird live in the world today. It’s also known as snowy albatross, white-winged albatross or goonie (Diomedea exulans) is large seabird that lives in the Southern Ocean. Albatross known for its gliding skills where some individual known to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times (covering more than 120,000 km or 75,000 miles) in one year.

It takes 11 years for wondering albatross to become mature and ready to mate. While they are mate for life and breed in every two years make their population rate decreasing every year (for South Georgia Islands population). They only produce one egg at a time. This makes the population growth very slow even though they can reach life span up to 50 years.

Wandering albatross of South Georgia Island. Photo by: Brocken Inaglory

Gesture to impress. Photo by: Jerry Gillham

The wandering albatross has the longest wingspan that ranging from 2.51 to 3.5 m (8 ft 3 in to 11 ft 6 in). This makes them a great glider – they can keep on gliding for several hours without flapping their wings. They actually use less energy while flying than when they sit in their nest. Their capability makes them rarely seen on land and gather only to breed, by form large colonies on remote islands.

Albatrosses are night feeders and feed on cephalopods (squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish), small fish, and crustaceans and almost anything that float on the sea. They usually follow ships in hopes of feeding on its garbage. In order to feed they also make shallow dive. They can eat as much that they become unable to fly and just float on the water.

Checking for eggs. Photo by: Jerry Gillham

Wandering Albatross and chick on South Georgia. Photo by: Steph Winnard / Prince Images 

Being so big and spend most of their time in flight, wandering albatross have almost no natural predators. But since they were heavily hunted they are listed as vulnerable under Conservation status by IUCN. Even though they are no longer being hunted today, their population growth is very slow and pollution (such as plastics and oils) might be the main contributor to their death.

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Top Largest Living Bird in the World

Ostrich can be aggressive. Photo by:

Ever think about which one is the largest bird in the world? Some birds can fly and some of them cannot. While being largest also meant it’s harder to fly – then the few largest birds also fall in the categories of the flightless bird.

But before we go through more details you might need to check the flying birds ever – where some of the largest flying birds already extinct. Because it’s not the size of the bird that restrict them from flying – but their physical and the volume of their flying muscles.

The largest birds fall from both categories of flying and flightless birds. From the list we can go further details about their nature of the lives that explains more about their physical shapes. While in this article today we just want to know which birds include in this category.

Below are the 10 largest birds that still exist today:

Albatross wings are very wide. Photo by: JJ Harrison

Mute swan feathers entirely white with long neck and orange bill. Photo by: Yerpo

8) Dalmatian Pelican

Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is the most massive member of the pelican family. Photo by: Olaf Oliviero Riemer

7) Andean Condor

Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world by combined measurement of weight and wingspan. Photo by: NationalGeographic

6) Kori Bustard

kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is the largest flying bird native to Africa. Photo by: Winfried Bruenken

5) Greater Rhea

Greater rhea (Rhea americana) is a flightless bird from eastern South America. Photo by: Rufus46

4) Emperor Penguin

Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the biggest of all living penguin species. Photo by:

3) Emu

Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest living bird by height. Photo by: Benjamint444 

2) Southern Cassowary

The southern cassowary is Australia's heaviest flightless bird, but the emu is taller. Photo by: Marc Anderson

1) Ostrich

Ostrich can run at up to about 70 km/h (19 m/s; 43 mph). Photo by: BernardDUPONT

Those are 10 birds fall into this category. In the next article we will go into more details about each one of them. We might also want to know the largest ever bird that roams the earth.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Beautiful Sound of Superb Lyrebird

The superb lyrebird on the tree. Photo by: Fir0002

Most of the birds have beautiful colours and shapes, but when it comes to Superb Lyrebird there are more qualities to be looked at: the super skill of mimicking sounds rather than just unique plumes that gave them their name.

Lyrebird has two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds. They are from genus Menura, and the family of Menuridae. The male Superb Lyrebird has a beautiful tail feathers that they will fanned out in courtship display. Two of its tail feathers are curved, in display it resembles the shape of a lyre.

The two species of lyrebirds are superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae), and Albert’s lyrebird (Menura alberti). Both species inhabit the areas of the south-eastern Australian mainland and southern Tasmania. They are ground-dwelling species in the moist forest, yet they still roost in trees at night. They rarely move far from their areas that usually within a range of 10 km in diameter.

Male superb lyrebird wondering the ground. Photo by: sunshinecoastbirds

The female Albert's lyrebird. Photo by: Peter Ellis

Superb lyrebird popular with its ability to mimic other sounds, whether natural sounds or mechanical sounds. It is believed that 80% of its songs are the result of this mimicry. They sing throughout the year, with its peak during the breeding season, from June to August. They can sing for four hours a day. They have been recorded mimicking human sounds such as a mill whistle, a cross-cut saw, chainsaws, car engines and car alarms, fire alarms, rifle-shots, camera shutters, dogs barking, crying babies, music, mobile phone ring tones, and even the human voice.

As any ground-dwelling birds it mostly feed on insects such as cockroaches, beetles (both adults and larvae), earwigs, fly larvae, and the adults and larvae of moths. Other preys include centipedes, spiders, and worms. Less commonly prey on stick insects, bugs, amphipods, lizards, frogs and occasionally, seeds. It finds food by scratching with its feet through leaf-litter. Lyrebird tends to forage alone, while females and young males may be seen feeding together.

Male superb lyrebird, sing their mimicry songs. Photo by: Fir0002

Fanned its tail. Photo by: thewitchsblog

Lyrebirds are not endangered in its natural areas. Albert’s lyrebird however, had been listed as vulnerable by the ICUN, but then with carefully managed habitat, the species was re-assessed to near threatened in 2009. Nowadays superb lyrebird is classified as common. Their main predators include cats and foxes, other than increasing in human populated areas.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

More About Salmon

School of salmons marching to their breeding ground. Photo by: PatClayton

Salmon is one of the fish largely farmed these days. The farming technologies help more people from all around the world to enjoy eating salmon at the same time avoiding wild salmon to recover from overfishing, loss of habitats due to dam constructions deforestation and development. No one knew the exact numbers of the ideal salmon in the wild, but avoiding further damage to the wild population in important before it’s too late.

There are more interesting things about salmon that we need to know. As the salmon that grows for commercial purposes only few types that suitable for the farming industries. While there are many other salmons included in this family and some of them not even migrate to the sea as other salmon do. So what happen to them? Are all of them threaten as the common salmon (Atlantic salmon: Salmo salar and Pacific salmon: genus Oncorhynchus)?

Salmon's steak. Photo by: J.Kenji L√≥pez-Alt 

Chinook salmon, the largest salmon today. Drawing of Ocean Phase Chinook (king) salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Image by:

Salmon is the group of fish in the family Salmonidae that also includes trout, char, grayling and whitefish. But the salmon that we are going to talk about are mostly the two popular group of North Atlantic (genus Salmo) and Pacific Ocean (genus Oncorhynchus) and few more species in the same family.

The main group of salmons show in the table below with their genus, names, scientific names, maximum length, common length, maximum weight, and maximum age. These are also the salmons that use as farming salmon for commercial purposes. From their maximum age, we will know their life cycles and how long it would take for the salmon to restore their population.

Common name
Scientific name
(Atlantic salmon)
Atlantic salmon
Salmo salar Linnaeus, 1758
150 cm
120 cm
46.8 kg
13 years
(Pacific salmon)
Chinook salmon
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum, 1792)
150 cm
70 cm
61.4 kg
9 years
Chum salmon
Oncorhynchus keta(Walbaum, 1792)
100 cm
58 cm
15.9 kg
7 years
Coho salmon
Oncorhynchus kisutch(Walbaum, 1792)
108 cm
71 cm
15.2 kg
5 years
Masu salmon
Oncorhynchus masou(Brevoort, 1856)
79 cm
10.0 kg
3 years
Pink salmon
Oncorhynchus gorbuscha (Walbaum, 1792)
76 cm
50 cm
6.8 kg
3 years
Sockeye salmon
Oncorhynchus nerka(Walbaum, 1792)
84 cm
58 cm
7.7 kg
8 years

Other than the main species of salmons there are few more salmon that we should know;

  • Black Sea salmon (Salmo labrax) - small species of salmon with 51 cm (20 in) in length on average and can reach up to 76 cm (30 in). This species inhabits the northern Black Sea coast and inflowing river. Same as other salmon they are also anadromous, lacustrine and resident river populations. Spawn in October - January. Parrs live in rivers for 2 - 4 years, then smoltify and migrate to the sea or mature in the freshwater. They can spend for another 2 - 4 years before return to the spawning areas. Their conservation status also showing least concern.
  • Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) - also known as huchen, is a large freshwater fish. They never go to the sea as any other salmon. Huchen is endemic to the Danube basin in Europe. They also reported to be found in the Dniestr basin in the historic time and in big dam reservoirs on the mountain such as Lake Czorsztyn in Poland. Huchen is a big fish with size up to 1.5 m (4ft 11 in) and weight up to 50 kg 110 lb). The modern record for largest huchen is 34.8 kg (77 lb), caught in February 1985 in Spittal an der Drau in Austria, while older records reported weights in excess of 60 kg (130 lb). Unfortunately the conservation status for huchen already reach the level of “threatened.
  • Sabertooth salmon (Oncorhynchus rastrosus) - is an extinct species of salmon that can grow to very large sizes. They lived along the Pacific coast of North America in the late of Miocene Period, near California. The adults grew up to 2.7 m (9 ft) in length and also an anadromous like the modern salmon. They have a pair of small fangs protruding from the tip of the snout that also gave them their name. Even though so big they believe to be planktonic feeder. More about sabertooth salmon can be found here.

Black Sea salmon. Photo by: Otel,Vasile  
Danube salmon. Photo by: Hartl,Andreas
The display of saber-tooth salmon at Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene. Photo by: RACHAELMCDONALD

Yes there are many other fish in the same family of Salmonidae. If you want to know more details about the sub-species in this family the best place to look for them is through fishbase. While salmon farming get better in producing good quality of salmon every year and the wild salmon population getting increases. The sub-species of salmon too should be taken care off too. With more knowledge shares among publics the awareness of conservation will be taken more seriously by each individual.

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