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6279.  Tue Mar 02, 2004 4:34 am Reply with quote


A small songbird in the wild has less than a 50% chance of surviving more than two years. However, if a young bird can survive accidents, disease, predation, migration, and winter starvation, it may live a surprisingly long time.

As a general rule, larger birds tend to live longer. It also helps to be at the top of the food chain.

A Laysan Albatross has survived 42 years and 5 months in the wild. Parrots in captivity have been known to live over 80 years.

Here are some of the records for longevity. These are certainly not average life expectancy -- these are the all time records! These figures are based on the recapture of banded birds. The life of the bird at the time of death is shown in years and months:
Common Loon 12-11
Laysan Albatross 42-05
Brown Pelican 27-10
Anhinga 11-11
Great Blue Heron 23-03
Green Heron 07-11
Mute Swan 26-09
Canada Goose 28-05
Mallard 26-04
Osprey 26-02
Red-tailed Hawk 25-09
American Kestrel 13-07
Northern Bobwhite 06-05
Whooping Crane 18-10
Killdeer 10-11
Herring Gull 28-00
Common Tern 25-00
Elf Owl 04-11
Great Horned Owl 27-07
Ruby-th Hummingbird 09-01
Downy Woodpecker 11-11
Hairy Woodpecker 15-10
Red-eyed Vireo 10-00
Blue Jay 17-06
American Crow 14-07
Purple Martin 13-09
Carolina Chickadee 10-11
House Wren 09-00
Eastern Bluebird 10-05
Western Bluebird 05-01
American Robin 13-11
Northern Mockingbird 14-10
Yellow Warbler 09-11
Song Sparrow 11-04
Northern Cardinal 15-09
Western Meadowlark 06-06
Red-winged Blackbird 15-09
House Sparrow 13-04

6283.  Tue Mar 02, 2004 6:33 am Reply with quote


6284.  Tue Mar 02, 2004 6:33 am Reply with quote


Sophie J
6287.  Tue Mar 02, 2004 10:15 am Reply with quote

Q: Why should you not set fire to peregrine falcon eggs?

Forfeit: Because they're an endangered species (they were taken off the endangered list just under five years ago)

A: Because you'd be wasting your time.

Info: Studies of the eggs have found traces of chemicals that are used as flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). PBDEs have also been found in sperm whales and other marine mammals.
A peregrine's diet consists solely of other birds and there are two potential reasons for their having eaten the chemicals. One is that shorebirds such as wading ducks (which are a peregrine's main prey) might be taking up the chemical when eating invertebrates that live in the sediment on the shore, or that they're swallowing the chemically-contaminated sediment itself. The other suggestion is that songbirds such as thrushes and doves, that are favoured by falcons living in southern Sweden, might be eating PBDEs in worms exposed to soil that has been contaminated by sewage used as fertiliser.


6317.  Thu Mar 04, 2004 6:41 am Reply with quote

I posted this on the Bloody thread in the Other Place, but it suddenly occurred to me that we might not have had this factoid here yet.

An early name for the windhover was 'wind fucker'.

This term is used to good metaphorical effect by Chapman, in his introduction to his translation of Homer, where he mentions indignantly "a certaine envious Windfucker,"

that hovers up and downe, laboriously engrossing al the aire with his luxurious ambition and buzzing into every eare my detraction - affirming I turne Homer out of the Latine onely, & c - that sets all his associates and the whole rabble of my maligners on their wings with him to bear about my empaire and poyson my reputation.

Apparently Samuel Pepys also used this term for somebody who pissed off his friend, but I don't know whether there was also a bird connection.

Molly Cule
6327.  Thu Mar 04, 2004 12:17 pm Reply with quote

Birds have an egg tooth they use to break out of their shells, these fall off after birth. Here is a picture of a great horned owl's egg tooth -

Some reptiles - e.g crocodiles - and mammals such as the echidna, an Australian relative of the platypus also have an egg tooth. Crocodiles reabsorb their egg tooth in the days after they hatch.

Frederick The Monk
6329.  Thu Mar 04, 2004 12:31 pm Reply with quote

The act of pecking through the shell is known as 'external pipping'.

s: l

11122.  Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:23 am Reply with quote

Windfucker - or windsucker? Confidering that crazy f/s businefs, which I have never underftood.

11128.  Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:22 pm Reply with quote

No, it was definitely an f not an s - the word having the connotation of riding.

11182.  Wed Nov 24, 2004 6:43 pm Reply with quote

A bird which is able to leave the nest shortly after hatching is nidifugous. That's a rather satisfying term!

11183.  Wed Nov 24, 2004 6:55 pm Reply with quote

... and its antonym is nidiculous.

11184.  Wed Nov 24, 2004 7:16 pm Reply with quote

That's very good. Parent bird (exasperated): "Oh, stop being so nidiculous!"

216775.  Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:14 am Reply with quote

Not sure if it's the done thing to ressurect such an old thread but wanted to add something to the longevity note back a few posts.

The longest lived bird is the Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus [Brünnich, 1764]). A bird ringed (banded) in County Down, Northern Ireland was at least 49yr 11m old.

This figure refers to the time between when it was first ringed (1953) and when it was recaught in 2003. As it was an adult when originally caught it's true age will be at least a year higher.

216797.  Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:39 am Reply with quote

I certain that I read that the Kiwi has an extremely short beak, as it should be measured from the nostrils to the tip of the beak.

I will have to do some digging on this one...



216973.  Fri Oct 05, 2007 4:29 am Reply with quote

You are indeed right - it's nostrils are right at the tip - like a human nose.


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