Recently, I’ve been working on a research project about birds. It’s fun learning about the animals that wake me up every morning with their song. I’m also lucky to have an uncle who’s an ornithologist. He studies birds for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. So he expects me to know a few things about our feathery friends.
I’d like to share some of the interesting tidbits that I’ve picked up during my research.
—Birds are the fastest animals alive. A peregrine falcon can swoop down at more than 200 miles per hour as it snatches up prey.
—Emperor penguins can dive more than 600 feet underwater to feed (possibly up to 1,000 feet).
—Birds that fly have four toes per foot. Birds that don’t fly usually have three, and ostriches are the only birds with just two toes.
—Birds don’t have teeth! Yeah, I know you’re probably wondering about those vicious geese that hiss and snap at your during your strolls down by the lake. I grew up on a farm and had a few painful run-ins with geese. But those sharp ridges on their beaks are called tomia. They don’t have enamel, which makes teeth hard. So if you think geese bites are painful now, just think what it would be like if they really had teeth.
This summer, I hope to set up some bird feeders to attract colorful songbirds like goldfinches, or even humming birds. At the moment, I have cardinals, sparrows, and chickadees fluttering about my backyard. I often hear doves cooing in the morning. And then there’s the loud caws of common crackles.