Now That’s A Parrot – Squawkzilla

Meet ‘Squawkzilla,’ the massive prehistoric parrot scientists say terrorized other birds

A reconstruction of Heracles inexpectatus, the New Zealand parrot. The team initially thought the fossils belonged to a giant eagle. Photograph: Brian Choo/Flinders University

“Fossils of the largest parrot ever recorded have been found in New Zealand. Estimated to have weighed about 7kg (1.1st), it would have been more than twice as heavy as the kākāpo, previously the largest known parrot.” (The Guardian)

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

“Palaeontologists have named the new species Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its unusual size and strength and the unexpected nature of the discovery.

Prof Trevor Worthy of Flinders University in Australia, the lead author of the research published in the journal Biology Letters, said: “Once we decided it was something new and interesting, the challenge was to figure out what family it was from.

“Because no giant parrots have been found previously, parrots were not on our radar – thus it took some time to differentiate all other birds essentially from parrots to conclude that the unique suite of characters was definitive of a parrot.”

Paul Scofield, a senior curator of natural history at Canterbury Museum, said the fossil had been excavated in 2008, and initially the team had thought the bones were part of a giant eagle.”

From the Washington Post: “The large bones, believed to be the bones of an ancient eagle, flew under the radar for a decade. It was during a research project in the lab of Flinders University paleontologist Trevor Worthy that a graduate student rediscovered the bones. After that, a team of researchers began reanalyzing the findings earlier this year, according to the BBC.

“It was completely unexpected and quite novel,” Worthy, the study’s lead author, told National Geographic. “Once I had convinced myself it was a parrot, then I obviously had to convince the world.”

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #1

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian

Researchers concluded that the bird probably couldn’t fly and consumed what was along the ground and easy to reach, according to National Geographic. But that might not have been enough to satiate the giant parrot.

It’s possible the bird had more carnivorous ways, like another New Zealand parrot, the kea, which has been known to attack and subsequently munch upon living sheep, the magazine reported.


Keas, the world’s only alpine parrots, are native to New Zealand’s South Island. (Erin E. Williams for The Washington Post)

Michael Archer, a co-author of the research and paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, told National Geographic that heracles might have even been eating other parrots, giving way to a nickname: “Squawkzilla.”

Archer told Agence France-Presse the bird had “a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied.”

Heracles probably won’t be the final unforeseen fossil from the St. Bathans area, Worthy told AFP. The researchers have turned up many surprising birds and animals over the years.

“No doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit,” Worthy said.”

Washington Post Article about Heracles inexpectatus.

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation-To See Relative Size

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation-To See Relative Size

Of course, those of us on this blog do not believe in millions of years, but that the Lord created everything, including this humongous Parrot. National Geographic says “The flightless ‘squawkzilla’ stood three feet tall and was twice the weight of the kakapo, the heaviest parrot alive today.”

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19 NKJV)

Other’s with the same basic information:

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Save The Parrots

The Substitute Teacher by Emma Foster

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) by Lee at Gatorland

The Substitute Teacher

~ by Emma Foster

Once there was an elementary school in the middle of Florida. The third grade class of that school had a class pet parrot named Beatrice. Every day, Beatrice would sit and watch as the teacher, Miss Kendall, taught the class. During recess, however, Beatrice would sneak over to the teacher’s desk and read over all of the material. She wanted to not only know what was being taught, but also wanted to know how to teach it to the class.

Beatrice wanted to be sure that she knew everything for Thursday. This was because Miss Kendall was going to be gone on Thursday and Friday for jury duty, and Beatrice was chosen by the school board to teach the class because she was the only one who knew the material so well.

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) ©WikiC

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) ©WikiC

On Thursday, when all of the third grade class entered into the classroom, they were surprised to find that Miss Kendall wasn’t there. Instead, Beatrice was sitting on top of her desk. Each of the students sat down and waited as Beatrice called the role. After she finished, Beatrice had the class say the pledge of allegiance like they did every morning, and she whistled the “Star Spangled Banner” along with the class afterwards.

Because Beatrice was a parrot, she was able to explain to the class why she was substituting for the day, and moved onto the first subject of the day: reading. Beatrice had the entire class read a few pages in the book they were supposed to read for a book report. During that time, Beatrice read over all that she had to do that day. The next subject was penmanship. This was the tricky part because Beatrice had to use her talons. She was able to shakily write the first few letters of the alphabet on the board. The class did much better than she did.

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) ©WikiC

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) ©WikiC

Finally it was time for lunch. Beatrice made sure all of the class stayed in a line as they walked down to the cafeteria. She brought along the crackers Miss Kendall kept in her desk for her and ate them there. When lunch was over, Beatrice let all of the third grade class go outside to the playground. She climbed the monkey bars upside down; the class considered this the best part of the day so far.

Blue-and-yellow Macaw by Dan at Gatorland

Then Beatrice and the class came back inside for science. This week was Botany. Because Beatrice used to live in the Amazon before coming to America to become the class pet, she was able to tell them all about the different plants in the jungle.

The last subject of the day was math. This was the students’ least favorite subject. Fortunately, the best Beatrice could do when it came to math was count to five, so it was going to be difficult teaching the class anything. The students didn’t mind, however. Beatrice would have to explain to Miss Kendall that they didn’t get much done.

When the class was dismissed they all told their parents when their parents picked them up how much fun they had, and Beatrice believed she had done a good job. She had the feeling that when she taught tomorrow it would be even better than the first day. And when Miss Kendall returned, she was surprised when the entire class asked if she could repeat jury duty again next week.


Lee’s Addition:

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’ (Job 35:11 NKJV)

Thanks, Emma, for another delightful story. Birds are very capable of teaching us about their great Creator. Maybe not quite in a classroom like Beatrice, but still, they can be teachers to humans. Those who study birds and other animals, can see the Hand of God at work, if their eyes are open.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:9-10 KJV)

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See more of Emma’s delightful stories

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Wordless Toucan

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“Flag That Bird!” (Part 1)

“Flag That Bird!”  (Part 1)

We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners; may the Lord fulfil all thy petitions.   (Psalms 20:5 — numbered as 20:6 in Hebrew Bible)

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan

Orni-Theology

“Flags” and “banners” herald symbolic messages and institutions, such as a nationality, a dynasty, a military force, or some other kind of organization.  In holy Scripture, the term “flag” (in the KJV) refers to riparian or lacustrine wetland plants, which somewhat resemble banners in their physical appearance (see Job 8:11; Exodus 2:3,5; Isaiah 19:6). The term “banner” denotes the word “flag” as it is commonly used today (see Exodus 17:15; Song of Solomon 2:4 & 6:4,10; Psalms 20:5 & 60:4; Isaiah 13:2).

Bald Eagle and a flag

Whenever birds are featured on a national flag (or on its “armorial banner” version, or on a national province or department), the odds heavily favor the banner-bird being an eagle.   Flags affiliated with American showcase the bald eagle; other nations usually present a golden eagle, like Mexico, or sometimes a mythical “double-headed” eagle, like Mount Athos.

ag of Mexico ©WikiC

flag of Mexico ©WikiC

Consider  –  for just a few representative examples  –  the eagles that appear on the flags  –  some present, some past  —  of these national and state/provincial flags:  Albania;  American Samoa;  Austria (armorial flag);  Brandenburg, Germany;  Ecuador (armorial banner);  Egypt;  Geneva, Switzerland;  Germany (armorial flag );  Iowa;  Italian president’s flag (AD1880-AD1946);  Jordan (armorial banner);  Mexico;  North Dakota;  Oregon (front side of state flag);  Pennsylvania;  Poland (armorial flag);  Prussia (armorial banner, AD1819-AD1850); (Moldova;  Mount Athos (autonomous Greek protectorate);  Russian Czar’s banner (18th century A.D.);  Serbia (during AD1882-AD1918); Silesia (until absorption by Prussia in AD1742 – parts of Silesia now lay within Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic);  United States Coast Guard and Marine Corps;  Utah;  Virgin Islands (of the USA);  Zambia; etc.

So what about the other birds?  Do any other birds get to show off their plumage on a national flag?  Yes, but just a select few.  Although this listing is likely incomplete (and it will be presented as a mini-series, God willing), herebelow are some non-eagle birds that appear on the official flags of some countries of the world.

For starters, consider the common – yet ubiquitously valuable – Chicken.

Gallic Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) ©WikiC

Gallic Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) ©WikiC

Gallic Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus).

The Gallic Chicken appears on the flag of Wallonia, Belgium.

Wallonia is a region of Belgium, where French is the language usually spoken.  (In Flanders, however, Flemish is spoken; Brussels is bilingual.)  The “Walloon Cock” (i.e., rooster of Wallonia) marches prominently at the center of the regional flag of Wallonia, Belgium.

Flag of Wallonia

Flag of Wallonia

During New testament times the country of France (and additional lands that border it) was called “Gaul”, and the symbol of Gaul was the “Gallic cock” (Gallus gallus domestic), i.e., a strutting rooster  –  the adult male of the domestic Chicken, deemed a subspecies of the Red Jungle-fowl (Gallus gallus).  “The cock is a traditional Gallic [i.e., Gaelic/Celtic] emblem and [it] recalls Wallonia’s linguistic and cultural ties with France.”  [Quoting Alfred Znamierowski, The World Encyclopedia of Flags (London: Hermes House, 2002), page 146.]  Chickens are bred and eaten all over the world  –  they even roam the streets of Key West, Florida!   Can you imagine life without chicken?  – think of the almost endless variety of culinary uses of chicken meat and chicken eggs!  Vive le poulet!

The next bird on this list is “bird hawk”, i.e., an accipiter hawk.

Among the birds of prey (“raptors”), there are two main categories of “hawks”:  (1) eagle-or-buzzard-like “buteos” (famous for snatching rodents, lizards, fish, and snakes); (2) and smaller forest-frequenting “accipiters” (famous for snatching birds).  Some would “lump” falcons with accipiters; other do not.  Other groups within the greater “hawk family” include eagles, kites, harriers, vultures, and various “buzzards”.

Buteos include such birds as Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk (which also eats insects), Ferruginous Hawk, Eurasian Buzzard, Broad-winged Hawk, and Osprey.

Accipiters are the smaller category of hawk-like birds  —  the “true hawks”  —  which include the likes of Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, etc.  “Accipiters are woodland, bird-catching hawks.  They rely on surprise and a blurring burst of speed to overtake prey.  Short, broad wings provide great acceleration, and slim bodies create little drag.”  [Quoting  Jack L. Griggs, All the Birds of North America (HarperCollins, 1997), page 66 .]  The smaller size of accipiters is a more fitting design for darting in between and around tree branches and shrubbery.  “An accipiter, like the Cooper’s hawk, can chase a songbird through a maze of trees without seeming to slow down, using its long tail as a rudder to help maneuver.  If a songbird does escape the initial attack, it is likely to survive the encounter, for accipiters are sprinters … [who] seldom engage in prolonged tail chases.”  [Again quoting Griggs, All the Birds of North America, page 66.]

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) ©USFWS

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) ©USFWS

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis).

The Northern Goshawk appears on the flag of the Azores, an Atlantic Ocean-surrounded archipelago.  These volcanic islands, located southwest of the European continent, arose from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, constitute an autonomous protectorate of Portugal.

Portuguese Flag (PD)

Portuguese Flag (PD)

The word “Azores’ derives from açor, the Portuguese word for “goshawk” (which means “goose-hawk”).  Yet it is ironic that both the name and flag of the Azores feature the Northern Goshawk (an accipiter common in continental Europe), because many historians doubt that the Northern Goshawk was a common resident of there, when the Azores were discovered by Portuguese sailors during the AD1400s.  Many think that a local variety of the Eurasian Common Eurasian (Buteo buteo) was mistaken for the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) – yet nonetheless the name “Azores” (meaning “goshawks”) stuck.  Accordingly, the depiction of a goshawk, matching the archipelago’s name, was superimposed onto the Azores’ territorial flag.)

The next flag-featured bird is a spectacularly colored fowl, famous for its fan-like display of extravagant covert plumage, the Peafowl.   Many call this iridescence-decorated fowl the “peacock”, although it is only the male that is appropriately called “peacock”; the female is a “peahen” and the young are “peachicks”.  There are three types of peafowl:  (1) the Blue Peafowl (a/k/a “Indian Peafowl”) of India and Ceylon; (2) the Green Peafowl of southeastern Asia (native to Burma, Indochina, and the Indonesian island of Java); and (3) the Congo Peafowl (native to the Congo River’s drainage basin in Africa).

(Javan) Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus muticus) by Lee at Zoo Miami

(Javan) Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus muticus) by Lee at Zoo Miami

Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus).

The Green Peafowl appeared, briefly (AD1939-AD1941), on the British territorial flag of “British Burma” – then a British Commonwealth colony.  (Burma is now called “Myanmar”.)   That colonial flag contained a Green Peafowl prominently displaying its famous covert feathers.

Flag of the Third Burmese Empire

Flag of the Third Burmese Empire (PD)

The Green Peafowl, historically, had symbolized pre-colonial regimes of Burma.

For example, the flag of the “Third Burmese Empire” (Konbaung Dynasty, AD1752-AD1885 – a/k/a “Alompra Dynasty”, which ultimately lost the Anglo-Burmese Wars  –  after persecuting the Great Commission efforts of Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson, who translated the Holy Bible into Burmese), consisted of a fan-tailed Green Peafowl, superimposed on a white background.

Peafowl on Flag of the Third Burmese Empire (PD)

Peafowl on Flag of the Third Burmese Empire (PD)

One more non-eagle bird, displayed on a national flag, will be included, below.  (The remainder must arrive on this blogsite another day, God willing.)  The next bird we will “flag” is a parrot.

Sisserou Parrot {Imperial Amazon} The national bird of Dominica (PD)

Sisserou Parrot (Amazona imperialis), a/k/a Imperial Amazon Parrot.

The Sisserou Parrot is a montane rainforest-dwelling parrot “endemic” to the Caribbean island nation of Dominica (not to be confused with another Caribbean country, Dominican Republic).  The term “endemic” means limited to that one location, so the Sisserou Parrot is native only to the island nation of Dominica.  And what a beautiful parrot it is!  As the national bird of Dominica, it is showcased “center-stage” on Dominica’s flag.

Dominican-Flag ©WikiC

Dominica’s-Flag ©WikiC

Sisserou Parrot Insert (Amazonaon Dominic )Flag ©Flickr-

Sisserou Parrot Insert (Amazonaon Dominic) Flag ©Flickr-

The flag’s depiction of the parrot is dominated by green and purple, with the beak and talons presented as yellow.  This coloring approximates the real parrot, though the “real thing” is obviously more beautiful!  The Sisserou is known to keep company with other parrots of Dominica, including the also-endemic Dominican Blue-faced Amazon Parrot (Amazona arausiaca, a/k/a “Red-necked Amazon”  –  no jokes about “rednecks”, please!)

There are more official birds to “flag”:   British Antarctic Territory (penguin);  Saint Helena, British crown colony in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean (Saint Helena Plover, a/k/a “wirebird”);  Fiji (dove);  Kiribati (frigatebird);  Papua New Guinea (bird of paradise);  Australian state of Western Australia (black swan);  Australian state of South Australia (piping shrike, n/k/a white-backed Australian magpie);  royal standard flag of Tonga (dove);  Bolivia (condor);  and Uganda (crested crane).

Till this mini-series continues, “flag those Jehovah-nissi birds!”  Yet more importantly, keep in mind that the Creator of all birds, flagged or otherwise, is JEHOVAH-NISSI (“the LORD our banner”), the One to Whom we pledge our ultimate allegiance!

And Moses built an altar and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi. (Exodus 17:15)

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More Articles by James J. S. Johnson

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Australian King Parrot

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Australian King Parrot ~ Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 7-31-14

Mea culpa again for the long delay since the last bird of the week. The good news is that, apart from dotting a few i’s, my current obsession Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland is finished, so with luck you may get more frequent BotWs in the future. Here is an attractive and surprising omission from the BotW series, the Australian King Parrot. It’s one of the most spectacular Australian parrots and deserves the ‘King’ moniker. The French call it la Perruche royale.

King Parrot by Ian

King Parrot by Ian

 

It’s quite common along the eastern seaboard of Australia, with a preference for fairly dense coastal and highland forests including rainforest. That can make it hard to see but it’s quite vocal and the whistling call of the males is a very characteristic sound of eastern forest. It responds readily to being fed and can get quite tame. The one in the first photo was taken at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park, where the birds will perch on arms and shoulders and pose happily for photos. The males are distinguished from the females by the brilliant scarlet of the breast extending onto the head and having a conspicuou peppermint green blaze on the wings.

 

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Male by Ian

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Male by Ian

The females are gorgeous too with scarlet lower breast and belly, green heads and pinkish necks. The one in the second photo was busy exploring hollows in trees, but it was hard to imagine that she was contemplating nesting in May. Both sexes have blue backs, third photo, but this is usually hidden by the folded wings. The wing blaze may be missing or inconspicuous in females.

 

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Female WikiC

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Female WikiC

It’s usually just called the King Parrot in Australia and I used to wonder vaguely about the ‘Australian’ qualification. The reason for it is that is a Papuan one in New Guinea and a Moluccan one in western New Guinea and the islands of eastern Indonesia. Both these are rather similar to the Australian one, but smaller and differ mainly in the colour or lack of the blaze on the wings, and the amount of blue in the plumage.

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Male Closeup by Ian

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Male Closeup by Ian

 

There are two races of the Australian species. The larger nominate race occurs along most of the east coast, while the smaller race minor (obviously) occurs in northeastern Queensland. The literature doesn’t say much about minor except that it’s smaller, and there’s disagreement in the field guides about how far south it occurs: choose between Cardwell, Townsville and Mackay. I suspect Townsville is correct as there a big gap between the Paluma Range population and the Eungella/Clark Range one near Mackay. Anyway, the male in photo 4 and the female in photo 5 were photographed on the Atherton Tableland and are certainly minor.

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) by Ian

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) by Ian

It seemed to me from the photos that I took there that the northern males had brighter and more extensive blue hind collars and the females had brighter wing-blazes than southern birds. My sample size was small, but it might be an interesting project to check out whether these differences are consistent and to establish the exact geographical ranges of the subspecies. In northeastern Queensland it is mainly a highland species, with some movement to the lowlands in winter and I have seen them very occasionally near where I live.

Links:
Australian King-Parrot (I should have put hyphens in the photo captions)
Red-winged Parrot

Anyway, back to dotting i’s. The next stage in the book is to check out publishing via Apple iBooks, Google Play, etc. That’s something I know nothing about, so it will be interesting to find out how it’s done.

Greetings

Ian
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17 KJV)

What beautifully created Parrots! They are just fantastic. Also, I was beginning to worry about Ian. It has been over a month since his last newsletter, Plum-headed Finches.

These parrots are members of the Psittacidae – Parrots Family. There are approximately 365 members, depending on whose list. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.

Checkout all of Ian’s Parrot photos (around 50 species)

King Parrot at Wikipedia

Psittacidae – Parrots Family

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Australian King Parrot by Bellamoon Nature

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Female by Ian

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) Female by Ian

For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. (Psalms 47:7 KJV)

Australian King Parrot by Bellamoonnature

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KING PARROT – One of the most spectacular, brilliantly coloured of all parrots endemic to Eastern Australia. Male king parrots are the only Australian parrot with a completely red head, females have a green head and breast. Found in humid and heavily forested regions. Thank you for viewing Enjoy!

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.” – Stephen King.

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence” – Robert Lynd

Australian King Parrots belong to the Psittacidae – Parrots Family.

Australian King Parrots range from North and Central to Southern Victoria. They are frequently seen in small groups with various species of rosella. Further from their normal eastern upland habitat, they are also found in Canberra during winter, the outer western suburbs and north shore of Sydney, and the Carnarvon Gorge in Central Queensland

There are three species of king parrots – medium-sized parrots in the genus Alisterus; the Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis), the Papuan King Parrot (Alisterus chloropterus), and the Moluccan King Parrot (Alisterus amboinensis). The three species are found in Eastern Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesian islands including the Maluku islands respectively. Predominantly of red and green plumage, the long tailed parrots are related to the genera Aprosmictus and Polytelis.

(Information – Bellamoonnature and Wikipedia)


Moluccan King Parrot (Alisterus amboinensis) ©WikiC - Brevard_Zoo

Moluccan King Parrot (Alisterus amboinensis) ©WikiC – Brevard_Zoo

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Psalms 95:2-3 KJV)

Lee’s Addition:

I trust you enjoy this video by Bellamoon. My computer is off line, in fact, not even set up. A new flooring is being installed in that room and it is getting a new coat of paint. So it will be down for several days. This is being scheduled ahead of time.

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Bellamoonnature – YouTube

Ian’s Australian King Parrots

Psittacidae – Parrots Family

Australian King Parrot – Wikipedia

Birds of the World

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-capped Parrot

Red-capped Parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-capped Parrot ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/15/14

I’ve had a request for a Western Australian endemic from an American friend who is visiting WA this coming September. So here, Laurie, is the Red-capped Parrot which you should see there. The first photo shows a male of this fairly large (length to 38cm/15in), brightly coloured – some would say gaudy – parrot, which is reasonably common in suitable habitat in a relatively small area of southwestern Australia, mainly south of Perth, west of Esperance and within 100km of the coast.

The second photo shows a female, similar to but more subdued in colour than the male, with greenish patches in the red cap and under-tail coverts and less intense violet breast.

Red-capped Parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius) by Ian female

The female is perched in a Marri tree, a Western Australian bloodwood, Corymbia, formerly Eucapyptus, calphylla. This is the main food plant of the parrot and their ranges mostly coincide. Marri has tough woody globular nuts and the long pointed bill of the Red-capped Parrot is adapted to exploiting the one weakness in the nut defences – the valve through which the seed is shed. The parrots can prise out the seed without having to gnaw through the woody wall.

It’s clearly a fine source of bird food, as another Western Australian endemic Baudin’s or the Long-billed Cockatoo has evolved along identical lines for the same reason -an elegant example of parallel evolution. The male cockatoo in the third photo is showing us exactly how it’s done: piece of cake really, given the right equipment. Not surprisingly the range of this cockatoo is similar to that of the parrot.

Long-billed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) by Ian

Actually, this bird featured as bird of the week in November 2006, but this is, if a repeat, at least a different photo. The first and third photos were taken on the same day. Kalgan is east of Albany on the way to the famous-for-birding Two Peoples Bay and Dunsborough is west of Bussleton near Cape Leeuwin. Cape Leeuwin has this splendid lighthouse built in 1895 and marks the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Cape Leeuwin by Ian

I did take this one photo of the lighthouse on the same day, but my clearest memory is of a Rock Parrot feeding on the ground near it, but that bird featured as bird of the week in October 2006: http://www.birdway.com.au/psittacidae/rock_parrot/index.htm: a good day for unusual parrots.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:22 NKJV)

What a beautifully created Parrot. As you may know, Ian allows me to reproduce his newsletter. I use these to introduce us to the fantastic birds around the world. He has great photos on his site.

(This blog is birdwatching from a Christian perspective and therefore I do not believe in evolution, but realize birds have reproduced, producing different variations withing the families and orders. They are all still birds though.)

See:

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Parrot Family – Ian’s

Psittacidae – Parrots Family

Cockatoo Family – Ian’s

Cacatuidae – Cockatoos Family

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Formed By Him – The Kakapo

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place. (Isaiah 34:14 ESV)

The Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is another unique bird Formed by the Creator. The following articles will introduce you to a New Zealand bird that is extremely endangered with only about 90-120 left in the world (depending on sources). They belong to the Strigopidae Family, of which it is the only bird in the Strigops genus and keeps company with the Kea and New Zealand Kaka of the Nestor genus. The three are classified as New Zealand Parrots and belong to the Psittaciformes Order of Parrots and Cockatoos.

From Creation Moments: A Truly Strange Bird

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalms 40:5 KJV)

Though God created the entire living kingdom in only a few days, the variety and creativity of what He made seems nearly unlimited by our standards. One of the more unusual creatures He made was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1958.

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

The kakapo parrot lives in New Zealand. The most unusual parrot on Earth, it is one of only a few known parrots that prefers to sleep during the day and becomes active at night. Weighing in at five pounds, it is also the world’s heaviest parrot. It is, perhaps not surprisingly, the world’s only non-flying parrot.

The Creator’s unusual expression of inventive creativity in designing the kakapo did not end here. The mating habits of the kakapo are especially peculiar for birds. In mating season, the males gather in locations that are used year after year for mate selection. Female parrots come to these places to inspect the males to select a mate. However, in most un-bird-like fashion, the males provide absolutely no help building the nest or rearing the young.

The kakapo is remarkable because of its many strange traits, most of which would make it least fit for survival. In other words, not only is it an unusual creature, but its more unusual characteristics seem to put it at a disadvantage as far as evolution is concerned. So while evolution would not have made the kakapo, our inventive Creator did, perhaps as a witness against evolution.
Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, I thank You for the beauty and creativity You have placed into Your work of creation and for the blessings these gifts add to life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Notes:
Discover, Mar. 1985. p. 36. ©Creation Moments 3/10/11

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation-To See Relative Size

This is what Wikipedia (with editing) has to say about the Kakapo:

“The Kakapo (Māori: kākāpō, meaning night parrot), Strigops habroptila, also called owl parrot, is a species of large (60 cm, 24 in), flightless nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. It has finely blotched yellow-green plumage, a distinct facial disc of sensory, vibrissa-like feathers, a large grey beak, short legs, large feet, and wings and a tail of relatively short length. A certain combination of traits makes it unique among its kind—it is the world’s only flightless parrot, the heaviest parrot (2-4 kg, 4.5-9 lb), nocturnal, herbivorous, visibly sexually dimorphic in body size, has a low basal metabolic rate, no male parental care, and is the only parrot to have a polygynous lek breeding system. It is also possibly one of the world’s longest-living birds. Its anatomy typifies the tendency of bird evolution on oceanic islands, with few predators and abundant food: a generally robust physique, with accretion of thermodynamic efficiency at the expense of flight abilities, reduced wing muscles, and a diminished keel on the sternum.

The Kakapo is critically endangered; as of February 2010, only 120 living individuals are known, most of which have been given names.

The Kakapo has a well-developed sense of smell, which complements its nocturnal lifestyle. It can discriminate among odours while foraging; a behaviour reported for only one other parrot species. One of the most striking characteristics of the Kakapo is its pleasant and powerful odour, which has been described as musty. Given the Kakapo’s well-developed sense of smell, this scent may be a social chemosignal.”

More about the Kakapo from Wikipedia

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing camaflage

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC Showing The Lord’s Design of Camaflage

Facts about the Kakapo from New Zealand’s Dept of Conservation:
* It is the heaviest parrot in the world. Males can weigh over two kilograms. Unique among land birds, it can store large amounts of energy as body fat.
* It is the only parrot to have a ‘lek’ mating system: males compete for ‘calling posts’ specially dug-out bowls in the earth and call (“boom”) each night in summer months for a female. The male’s low-frequency mating boom travels over several kilometres. It is the only parrot to have an inflatable thoracic air sac.
* Kākāpō breed every three to four years.
* A bird can range several kilometres in one night.
* Although it cannot fly, it is good at climbing trees.
* The birds are herbivores and eat variety of foods such as roots, leaves and fruit
* Kākāpō once ranged from near sea level to high in the mountains.
* Possibly as defence against its ancient predator – the giant eagle – the kākāpō became nocturnal and learned to remain still (‘freeze’) at times of danger.

More about the Kakapo from the New Zealand Department of Conservation

Kakapo Release by Spokebird

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