Sunday, December 28, 2008

Smarter Than The Average Bird



This is a yellow crowned night heron, another resident of our local lagoons. The northern lagoon, the Batiquitos, is open all year to the Pacific Ocean, which keeps the freshwater flushed and thriving with food for the migrating visitors.

Herons are one of the few birds with "powder down" - exceptionally fine feathers that produce a special dust which the birds use to coat their other feathers. The dust provides waterproofing and interlocks the feathers to give good lift so the birds can still fly in the rain.

Sometimes herons are called egrets, although egrets are mostly white and tend to be smaller. Herons were recently tested on a newly developed bird intelligence scale and were deemed to be one of the smartest birds because of their ability to acquire food. They're not terribly choosy and will eat rabbits, fish and frogs and make do with insects when they have to. The bird pictured has been walking the shallows near the shoreline and found a tasty crab, tangled in a bit of reed.

Thanks again to local wildlife photographer Chris Mayne for sharing his wonderful photographs.

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