Monday, September 25, 2017

Micro Post: Cock-of-the-rock

The prominent fan-shaped crest on cock-of-the-rock.

What kind of name, anyway this bird cock-of-the-rock absolutely the bird that going to catches the attention on anyone. They live in tropical and sub tropical rainforest close to the rocky areas, where they build their nest. They are two main species of this bird; the Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) and the smaller Guianan cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola).

The Guianan cock-of-the-rock live in the lowland forest in the South America’s north-east, while the Andean or Peruvian live in the higher Andes gorges. The Andean cock-of-the-rock also became the national bird of Peru.

The Guianan cock-of-the-rock.

The Andean cock-of-the-rock.

Both species has exhibit sexual dimorphism in term of bright colours and also their prominent fan-shaped crests. They also perform lek displays as part of their complex courtship behaviour in order to get an attention of the overall brownish females. Their nest will be build on the rocky cliffs or large boulders, and raise the young on their own. Usually there will be two eggs in their nest that is built out of plant fibres and saliva. The incubation period will be around 23 ~ 28 days.


Group of males for their lek.

The female.

Female in their nest.

It is not easy to locating this bird in the forest canopy as it is very shy unless during their mating season. With their primary source of food are fruits and berries, they are also important as dispersal agents for rainforest seeds.






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Micro Post: Sword-billed Hummingbird

Sword-billed hummingbird with its long bill.

One of the wonderful things about Sword-billed hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) is the long beak that even longer from its own body. It’s also the biggest in its family with the averages length up to 14 cm (5.5 in) - not including its 8 cm (4 in) bill. While its weighs about 12 grams (0.4 oz).

It’s living in high elevation areas mostly from 2,500 m (8,200 ft) in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The main purpose of sword-billed hummingbird is to pollinating the flowers with long corollas such as Passiflora mixta and angel's trumpets family (Brugmansia sanguine) where most other pollinators wouldn’t be able to pollinate it.

The flower that rely on the hummingbird to be pollinated.

The skeleton of sword-billed hummingbird.

Other than flower’s nectar they also feed on small spiders and insects as part of important sources of protein, especially during the breeding season. The insects are important to help proper develop their young. A nesting female can capture up to 2,000 insects a day.

The males will establish feeding territories and will aggressively chase away other males as well as other large insects - such as bumblebees and hawk moths that trying to feed in their territory.


Another interesting thing about the sword-billed hummingbird is they need to hold its long bill up high in order to balance while perching to avoid toppling over.






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Friday, September 22, 2017

Micro Post: Victoria Crowned Pigeon

The closer look of Victoria crowned pigeon.

Commemorates the British monarch Queen Victoria, the Victoria crowned pigeon (Goura victoria) is the largest pigeon in their family. It is so easy to recognize by its size, bluish-grey pigeon with elegant blue lace-like crests, maroon breast, and red irises. It is part of ground dwelling pigeons from more than 40 species of pigeon can be found in New Guinea region.

Being the largest it reaches the size typically 73 to 75 cm (29 to 30 in) long and weight of up to 3.5 kg (7.7 lb). There are two other crowned pigeon that slightly smaller that also live in New Guinea.

The Victoria crowned pigeon at Gondwanaland Zoo Leipzig, Germany.

The Victoria crowned pigeon at San Diego Zoo.

Crowned pigeons have 16 tail feathers while there’re only 12 in any other pigeons. The easiest way to recognize the crowned pigeons is by its superb fan-shaped, lacy crest of plumes on the head of both sexes.

All crowned pigeons live on the forest floor, flying into the three only to roost or nest. Because of its size, they produce a loud clapping sound when it takes flight. They also have similar mating calls as the other two species of crown pigeons with courtship display.


This bird will enjoying walking on the land.

They also can easily found moving in pack.

Even though easily breed in captivity, the Victoria crowned pigeon become rarely in their own natural habitat due to logging and hunting for its plumes and meat. Trapping of pigeons to be kept alive for captive collections is now illegal, but is still likely to be occurring. Now you can see this bird in most zoos and bird parks all around the world. 






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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Micro Post: River Lamprey

More like eel than fish, lamprey lack of fins.

European river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis), also known as river lamprey or lampern is one type of the lampreys family live in the fresh water in Russia, Scotland, Norway, Finland and other European coastal waters and rivers.

Lampreys are known for their sucker mouth with sharp teeth to attach itself to its prey. The size can range from 25 to 40 cm (10 to 16 in) for the sea-going forms while just to 28 cm (11 in) for the lake forms. Not like any other fish, lampreys lack of paired fins while having sucking disc instead of jaws.

Sucking disc instead of jaws.

There's also North American species.

Lampreys are also anadromous (sea going) same as salmon and only back to the river during the mating seasons. This migration to the spawning areas will take place during autumn and winter. The spawning activity will be active during the spring time, and the adult will die soon after this process.

Even though lampreys look kind of scary with its sucking mouth and eating on flesh of others fish, it should be considered as normal in the nature. Anyway, the introduction of this species into new location (rivers or lakes) might cause unhealthy effect to the balance of the local fish.

Otter enjoying its meal.

Water bird with its catch.

More food for crayfish too.







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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Do You Need To Shock Your Hand With An Electric Eel To Be a Scientist?

Electric eel is actually a fish.

Not necessarily you need too, but once someone did it, many others will follow. At least one of the researchers Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University, a professor of biological science already did to complete his paper, "Power Transfer to a Human during an Electric Eel's Shocking Leap."

Even though the electric eel potentially producing high voltage of electric potential, the current amount still unable to kill bigger animals (including human), anyway this electrical shock enough to make any potential predator runs away.


The electric eel behavior during an attack.

The setup during the experiment by Professor Catania.

The close up of electric eel.

Electric eel is not the only creatures that can produce electricity. One more example of electricity producing fish is electric rays from the order Torpediniformes. In fact these electric rays had been used by Greek for patient during childbirth and operation.

While the experiment by Catania provide an evident of how the electric eel shock works on their predator with its shocking leap. Plus the measurement also provide more details of current flows during the attack.


With the experiments Catania was able to describe many details related to the electric’s eel electric shocking mysteries. Perhaps he also inspires many others to try the experience in the future.







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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Giant Flying Bird Not Just a Myth

Haast's eagle try to capture it's prey the moa.

Legend about huge flying bird from native stories not just a myth. Few species of giant flying birds did exist not long ago. Even though they were not killed directly by men, but fighting with men over the same food source can be a bad thing too.

Haast’s eagle (Harpagornis moorei) is another giant birds that just extinct few hundred years ago from its native area, New Zealand. This giant bird has remained as a legend for Pouakai and Maori people until the truth was discovered.

The restoration of the skull.


Haast’s eagle became extinct around 1400 AD when their primary food resources had been hunted by the first Māori that came to the South Island of New Zealand. Compared to men that can easily change their food source, the Haast’s eagle had vanished together like their prey the moa.

The size of Haast’s eagle was even larger than the largest living vultures so it also the largest known true raptors. With the size of females were significantly larger than males, the weight of females were estimates to be in the range of 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) and males around 9–12 kg (20–26 lb).


The different in size between the size of Haast's eagle and its closest living relative, the little eagle.

The model of Haast's eagle attacking a moa at Te Papa. 

The main food sourced for the Haast’s eagle was the large flightless bird species known as moa, with body weight can reach up to fifteen times the weight of itself. The eagle was able to kill the giant bird by swooping it at the speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph).







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