‘All About Birds’ is the second feature in our ‘All About Animals’ series, following our recent post highlighting unique facts about dogs. In the Adventures of Mo, our free online children’s book, several different kinds of birds are mentioned throughout the chapters. Take chapter 2, for example: Mo, an American Eskimo dog, meets Finchy, a beautiful black and yellow bird that quickly becomes his best friend and travels with him to every state in the country to find the owner of a lost key who lives in Florida. Likewise, in chapter 46, Mo and Finchy make friends with two woodpeckers that are sisters. And in the following chapter, they meet a group of dancing cranes.
There are more than 1,100 different species of birds just in the US and approximately 10,000 throughout the world. But through evolution, did you know that more than 120 birds have lost their ability to fly? Here are three birds that cannot soar across the open skies:
- Ostriches: As the largest living bird, they can grow up to nine feet tall and weigh 300 pounds. Their super-size would make it hard for them to fly. Instead, they can run up to 45 mph. They also have the largest eyes of any land animal, which are roughly the size of a billiard ball.
- Penguins: Although there are 18 different species of penguins, not one of them can fly! They use their wings as flippers to help them swim quickly through the water and evade predators to avoid becoming the next meal of a seal, sea lion or shark. But they are cute, especially their adorable waddle when they move their plump bodies back and forth across the ground.
- Kiwis: As the national bird of New Zealand, kiwis share the same name with a fuzzy fruit that’s brown and green. These birds have nostrils at the end of their very long beaks to help them navigate in the dark. Surprisingly, they don’t have a tail. Their wings, which are only one inch long and hidden under their feathers, are no help for flying.
Weird & Unusual Facts about Birds
Each species is unique in its own way…
- Consider ducks: they sleep with one eye open to avoid sneak attacks from predators.
- The average hummingbird weighs less than a nickel.
- Likewise, scientists don’t know why, but cardinals and other birds sometimes cover themselves with crushed or living ants. Yuck!
- Another bird, the albatross, can sleep while it flies. It dozes off while cruising at 25 miles per hour.
- Ever wonder why owls can rotate their heads? Since they can’t move their eyes, their head rotates 270 degrees or three-quarters of a circle, which allows them to achieve 360 degree vision.
One question I always had that no one could answer was why some chicken eggs are brown while others are white. They taste the same and have the same nutritional value, so is there a difference between the two colors? As it turns out, there’s no mystery. The breed of the chicken and/or color of a hen’s ear determines eggshell color. Generally, white hens lay white eggs, and brown hens lay brown eggs.
Just like Finchy, one of the main characters in this free online children’s book, finches are social and among the smallest birds on the planet. There are roughly 17 different types throughout North America. I bet Finchy would be thrilled to learn that he has many relatives throughout the country!
The Beauty of Birds
Regardless of the species, all birds are beautiful animals, many with striking colors. Unlike humans, they never worry about their appearance. They don’t wear makeup or spend a fortune on designer clothes or jewelry. They always look good, even after a good night’s sleep on a tree branch.
Do you know something unusual about a bird? Or if you have a pet bird, email us about what makes your bird so funny, different or amazing and we’ll publish it along with your name, age and name of your state!