Posts from the ‘Long Wings’ Category

How did the barn swallow get its name?

The barn swallow gets its name because it often makes its nest on a rafter in a barn or shed, building it up of dabs of mud and lining it with soft feathers.

Before man built houses and barns, the barn swallows nested on cliff ledges or on sheltered tree branches.

The small, graceful swallow is one of our best-known birds.  It has long, powerful wings and spends much of its time in flight looking for small flying insects, which it scoops up in its big mouth.

Barn Swallow

Its small feet are suited more for perching than for walking.  Its long tail, which is often forked, is especially helpful in making sudden turns, as it pursues the insects.

Swallows usually return year after year to the same nesting sites, often to the same nests.  Few signs of spring are more certain than the appearance of swallows.

But the popular idea that swallows may return to a certain place on the same day each spring is just an old folk tale.

The day of their spring arrival depends on the abundance of insects in the air, which in turn depends on warm weather. – Dick Rogers

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What is a sea gull?

Around the seacoast there is probably no bird more familiar than the sea gull.

It is a large, long-winged bird with mostly white feathers.  Its graceful soaring and wheeling flight makes the sea gull a pleasure to watch.

Sea gulls have webbed feet and often alight on the water to feed or rest.  They float and swim easily, often roosting on the waves.

Sea Gull

Sea gulls are the scavengers of the seashore.  A sea gull will eat almost any kind of food it can swallow.  Its favorite food is garbage.

Sea gulls often follow ships for many miles, eagerly swooping down upon any garbage that is thrown overboard.  Large flocks congregate in harbors where there are plenty of floating scraps of food to eat.

Besides garbage, sea gulls eat fish and will even rob the nests of other birds for eggs.

Thousands of sea gulls will often be found nesting on the same island or rock cliff. – Dick Rogers

 

What is an albatross?

Albatross

Some birds spend all their time far out at sea, except when they are nesting.  The albatross is one of these birds.

It is a large sea bird resembling an overgrown sea gull.

Albatross are found roving over nearly an ocean except the North Atlantic.

They often follow ships for days and feed on the garbage that is thrown overboard.

Their long, narrow wings, allow them to soar behind a ship for hours with barely a wing beat.

Albatross sit down on the water to eat and scoop up the scraps of food with their yellow, hooked beaks.  They also eat fish.

The best known albatross is the wandering albatross.

This magnificent white bid has the longest wingspan of any living bid.

Though only about nine inches wide, its black-tipped wings may stretch more than 11 feet from tip to tip

An old sailor’s superstition said that harming an albatross bought bad luck.  – Dick Rogers

 

What is a gooney bird?

The playful and sometimes comical sea birds commonly seen on Midway Island in Pacific Ocean are often call gooney birds.

The gooney bird is really a large albatross, resembling an overgrown sea gull.

Albatross

Its long, narrow wings, often stretching seven feet from tip to tip, allow it to glide and sail over the water for hours with barely a wingbeat.

It sometimes follows a ship for days, feeding on scraps of food thrown from the ship.

When not nesting, the gooney ranges the high seas, seldom coming close enough to be seen from land.

After several months at sea, the bird seems to have forgotten how to land when it arrives at its nesting grounds.

The touchdown speed is usually far too great, and the once graceful flier becomes an undignified gooney bird awkwardly sprawling across the ground. – Dick Rogers