by Eco Kids Planet January 15, 2020

Birds are just awesome. From flightless birds to giant-egg layers, they are full of impressive skills. Here are 7 facts we think will shock you. 

1. There is only one toxic bird in the world

The New Guinea rainforest is home to the world’s only toxic bird - the Hooded pitohui. The feathers of these small black and orange birds are tipped with deadly neurotoxins.

2. The Goldcrest weighs the same as a fivepence piece

The gorgeous goldcrest weighs a minuscule 5g – that’s the same as a fivepence piece! They are one of the lightest birds to migrate. Flying over from northern Europe, they often need to rest midway on oil rigs or fishing boats. In order to survive the lean winter months, they live in coniferous woodlands. They spend their days feeding on the weeny insects and spiders living in the pine trees, never having to fly far for their food source.

3.  Fieldfares sleep together all facing the same direction

Up to 750,000 fieldfares migrate to the UK for winter every year. These chatty, perky birds are part of the thrush family. Jolly, they may be but they are also fierce defenders of their winter diet of fruit. Towards dusk, fieldfares gather together to roost. Once they have chosen their tree or bush, they all face in the same direction to sleep!

4.  Blue Birds of Paradise are sonic singers

A glossy, jet-black chest with luminous blue wings and impressive black tail wires. This is a bird of pride. Blues are notable for the noise they make during their courtship: a slow, rhythmic, almost other-worldly, sonic buzzing – more like an alien hum from outer space than a bird’s song in the middle of the jungle. The birds use this mesmerising sound to woo and attract their mates, and the ritual continues until the male is hanging upside down while crooning hypnotically! 

5. Snowies eat 1,600 lemmings a year!

A snowy owl's enormous sharp beak and talons are perfect for scooping up their favourite food: lemmings. After breeding in the Arctic tundra, snowy owls follow these critters north. They eat three to five of them every day – that’s a whopping 1,600 per year! No wonder snowies are he heaviest owls in North America! Actually, it’s not fat – it’s feathers. They are well insulated.

6. The Pharoah Eagle can bark like a dog

These beautiful birds of prey thrive in rocky, inhospitable places and arid environments, such as deserts. When the desert temperature drops at night and nocturnal creatures emerge into the cooler, evening air, the night-hunting pharaoh eagle owl can take its pick. Using its excellent eyesight and acute hearing, it detects its prey from a perch. The booming call of the male can be heard at sunset, but they also make a dog- like bark to raise the alarm.

7. Rio was based on a real bird

The animated movie, Rio, was inspired by the real-life story of the Spix’s macaw. This blue parrot from Brazil was trapped for the pet trade and is now probably extinct. The last wild bird was seen nearly 20 years ago.

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