Birds are curious creatures – they’re as ancient as dinosaurs, but some species are domesticated as late as the 19th century to be excellent household pets. Over 5 million households have a pet bird in the United States: Source. In this article, we’ve collated some bird facts across the board that are not only curious; they can also be great conversation starters. Here are five bird facts you may have missed:
Albatrosses live to at most 50 years
One of the most exciting albatross facts is that they can live for up to 50 years. These large birds are not just long-lived. They also have a wingspan of a staggering 11 feet! That’s why these birds are so majestic to see while in flight. There are at least 12 different albatross species in the world today, with at least more than 80% hovering on the surface of any open water formation right now.
Ravens can mimic human speech
Ravens are constantly rated as one of the most intelligent of birds. While parrots and other similar species can mimic human speech to a degree, most people don’t know that ravens can mimic human speech when trained and domesticated. They are better equipped than the formerly mentioned birds in doing it.
It’s not only human speech that ravens are good at. They can also mimic human sounds and sounds from the environment – both in nature and in the city. In captivity, ravens acclimate to the sounds of their surroundings better, while in the wild, they usually mimic the sounds of known predators.
Cardinals cover themselves in ants
Most scientists and enthusiasts know a little-known fact in ornithology but don’t know why it is happening. It’s called “anting,” which is the process of one bird, usually a cardinal, covering itself with dead or live ants. Cardinals are often observed to abide by this practice, but several related species were observed to do so as well.
One explanation is that the birds let the ants live on their feathers because they need them to eliminate lice and other tiny parasites. In what is called an “ant bath,” a kind of acid is formed on the feathers of these birds, which helps in curbing microorganisms living in the birds’ feathers.
Some species of ducks sleep with their eyes open
If you happen to observe some wild ducks while they are in groups, you might have noticed that they cluster up when napping. The ducks on the outer layer of the cluster will rest with one eye open to monitor possible predators. Through this process, half of their brains snooze while the other half is working.
Pigeons were once used to deliver Olympic results
Arguably the first species of birds to be domesticated, pigeons have long served many a purpose to humankind – as food, as pets, and as some courier. Ancient records from the first Olympic games state that pigeons were used to send and deliver Olympic results. They were also used as message couriers in war, which means they basically should be honorary soldiers.
These are just some of the facts that make the world of birds immersive and exciting. So if you want to become an ornithologist someday, you’ll need to learn a total amount about birds!