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Exploring Nature

Some birds, like jays, cover themselves in ants. Actual ants.
Photo from Metro Creative

Exploring Nature

Exploring Nature: Bird Facts

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Today, let us consider five interesting facts about birds.

1. The fastest bird on earth is the peregrine falcon. In spectacular dives while hunting, this bird reaches recorded airspeeds of up to 242 mph. When it comes to level flight, the swift has a top recorded air speed of 105 mph. Wow.

2. Owls cannot move their eyes. Their eyeballs are tubular in shape and they rotate their head some 270 degrees. This is further than any other animal and it allows the owl to achieve 360 degree — all around — vision. Owls also have exceptional hearing. They hunt at night and can pinpoint prey just by listening for the slightest movement or sound.

3. There is only one known poisonous bird. It is the hooded pitohui of the island of New Guinea. The poison is in the bird’s skin and feathers.

4. Many birds migrate to avoid cold weather and find food. In North America, 350 bird species migrate, about 27% of the total number.

5. A few birds cover themselves in ants. Blackbirds, cardinals and jays are among the several species that cover themselves in crushed or living ants. They allow ants to crawl over their bodies or smear them over their feathers. It is believed the formic acid secreted by ants is helpful in getting rid of lice and other parasites on the birds.

One more interesting fact: During its lifetime, an albatross can fly about 15 million miles, the equivalent of flying to the moon and back 18 times. Almost all of this flying is over water and out of sight of land.

That concludes today’s foray into fascinating factoids. More some other time.

San Marcos Record

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