06 March 2012

10 of the Strangest Looking Birds.

In the world, there are some weird and wonderful creatures. Things that make you stop and go 'awwwwwwww', and others that make you go 'what is that'?

This post I've gone for the 'what is that' approach on birds.
I'm sure there are a few other strange birds that you feel should have been on the list, but nevertheless, hope you enjoy.

1. Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
This unusual looking bird is the Abyssinian ground hornbill (sometimes referred to as the Northern ground hornbill,) is one of two species of ground hornbill.
It's found north of the equator and is an African bird.

They can live up to 40 years of age, and a group may have a territory of 2-100 square miles.

They eat small vertebrates and invertebrates including tortoises, lizards, spiders, beetles, and caterpillars; and some seeds and fruits.

2. Helmeted Hornbill
The helmeted hornbill is a large bird of the hornbill family being found in the Malay peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.

The body length is 95–120 cm (38–47 in). Males weigh 3.1 kg and females weigh about 2.7 kg. Unlike other hornbills, the helmeted hornbill's casque is solid, and the skull including the casque and bill, may make-up 10 percent of the bird's total weight.

The call is described as hoots followed by maniacal laughter. Males fight using their casques.

3. Quetzal
The quetzal is a member of the trojan family, being found in forests, woodland and humid highlands.

They grow to over 30cm in length and are marginally larger than their relatives in the trojan family tree.
They feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates.

4. Hoatzin
The hoatzin is a species of tropical bird found in riverine forest and mangrove of the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America.

They are renowned for having chicks that possess claws on two of their wing digits. They grow up to 65cm in length and have a distinguishable marooned-eyed blue face.

This is a noisy species, which usually incorporate some sort of body movement (like the spreading of the wings) with their calls.

5. Hoopoe
The hoopoe is found across Afro-Eurasia and is recognised for its unique head 'spikes'. The hoopoe is classified in the same group as kingfishers, woodhoopoes, rollers, and bee-eaters.

The hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, and make seasonal movements in response to rain. The hoopoe can grow anywhere from 25-32cm.

Having a muscular head, the hoopoe is able to open its beak when it is inside the ground.

There diet consists of mostly insects, but they can also eat seeds and berries, and small lizards and frogs.

6. Sri Lanka Frogmouth
The Sri Lanka frogmouth is an unusual species of bird found in the Western Ghats of south India and Sri Lanka. They are nocturnal creatures who spend their lives in forest habitats.

The bird can grow to be 23cm in length.
With their large heads and forward facing eyes, the Sri Lanka frogmouth has good binocular vision.

To avoid being seen they slowly move the head to point up their bill and can easily be mistaken for a jagged broken branch.

7. Shoebill Heron
The shoebill heron is a large bird distinguished for its shoe-shaped bill. After maturity, adults are generally grey in colour and stand at around 114 - 150cm, and their beaks are around a foot in length. Juveniles are brown in colour.

Shoebill's live in the tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia.

Their diet consists of fish, frogs, reptiles, and small mammals.
They are labelled as a vulnerable species.

8. Cassowary
Cassowaries are large flightless birds which live in the tropical forests of New Guinea. They are the third tallest bird in the world, behind the ostrich and emu.

The main part of a cassowaries diet is made up of fruits, but can also eat fungi, shoots, grass seeds, invertebrates and small vertebrates.

Although the bird is timid, it has a reputation for its vicious kicks that are able to seriously injure, or sometimes kill a person.

The average height of an adult cassowary can be anywhere from 4.9ft to 5.9ft.

Cassowaries can run up to 31 mph through forests and can jump up to 1.5 metres, and they are good swimmers, crossing rivers and swimming in the sea as well.

9. Kiwi
Kiwi's are small flightless birds that are native to New Zealand. There are five known species, which are all endangered.

In relation to their body size kiwi's lay the largest egg of any bird on the planet, and so only lay one every season. The bird has become a national symbol for the country of New Zealand.

Stoats, dogs, ferrets, and cats are the most dangerous threat to kiwi numbers.

10. Marabou Stork 
 Credit to Tony Northrup
The marabou stork is a large wading bird which live in Africa and the south of the Sahara. It is sometimes referred to as the 'undertaker bird' due to its appearance from behind.
Adults are capable of reaching a height of 153cm.

A frequent scavenger, it is not uncommon to see marabou stork's alongside vultures when feeding (who are also great scavengers). 

They mainly eat carrion, but can also eat frogs, fish, insects, eggs, small mammals, reptiles, quelea nestlings, pigeons, doves, pelican and cormorant chicks, and flamingos.


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