Kinky kakapo, lyrical lyrebird, moonwalking manakin

I’m on vacation to clear out my brain after finishing the big grant application, so here’s a lazy-blogger post: three classic bird videos.

The kakapo is a very rare, flightless parrot in New Zealand. This one has a thing for human cameramen.

The lyrebird, like a mockingbird or a mynah, shows off by perfectly imitating the sounds of other birds… and camera shutters, car alarms, and chainsaws.

Manakins, like birds of paradise, have brightly-colored males who perform elaborate dances to attract mates. The Red-capped Manakin male’s dance will be familiar to fans of Michael Jackson.

Bury your baby in a pile of trash, and other chick-rearing tips

One of birds’ most endearing qualities has to be their care of their chicks. Sparrows fly in and out of nests in the rafters of gas stations, doggedly exhausting themselves to feed their hungry offspring; ducks and geese lead lines of fuzzy yellow babies across roads and around ponds; and we humans see ourselves in this tender parental care, and say “Aww.”

But child-rearing in birds is stranger than you think.

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Fitting a bird-shaped peg through a tiny hole

Bird wings come in a variety of shapes, from long and slender to short and rounded. These shapes affect how good the bird is at different types of flight: long and slender wings are good for soaring, while short and rounded wings are good for maneuverability.

House Wrens spend a lot of time flitting around in dense brush, so they need to be very maneuverable.

Short, rounded wing of a House Wren

(They don’t usually hold their wings that way – this was an injured bird I was caring for – but it’s the best wing-shape picture I have.)

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