Are these birds really injured?

Some birds become very angry if their nesting sites are disturbed. Owls and terns, for example, show little fear and will not hesitate to attack an intruder. Other birds have developed more unusual ways of preventing the discovery of their nest. Practincoles nest on the ground in regions of Asia, Africa, Australia and southern Europe.

If you happen to stumble into a nesting area the birds would probably ‘freeze’ on their nests in the hope that you wouldn’t notice them. If you show no sign of going away the patincoles begin their distraction display.

A group of about twenty bird’s flutters and crawls about, trailing wings and making plaintive cries.They look as if they are mortally injured. This display is very convincing and the intruder usually follows the birds, which look such easy game, and is skillfully led away from the eggs and chicks.

Are these birds really injured

Are these birds really injured: The communal distraction display of pratincoles is designed to prevent predators from finding the vulnerable nests on the ground.

Why does a gull have a red spot on its beak?

You may have noticed a red, or sometimes a black spot near the end of a gull’s beak. When the parent bird arrives at its nest the spot catches the eye of the newly hatched chick and it instinctively pecks at it.

This action stimulates the parent bird to regurgitate some food from its crop and, of course, the check promptly eats it.This form of communication between young and parent birds has been studied intensively in the Herring Gull. A series of cardboard models of bird heads were presented to chicks to test the pecking reaction.

It was discovered that the chick would peck at more or less any shape, as long as the red spot was present. It seems that the red spot is all important in this curious ‘begging’ behavior in young gulls.

Why does a gull have a red spot on its beak?

In tests young gulls pecked at odd cardboard shapes with red spots but not at those without the spot. A parent Herring Gull is stimulated to disgorge food from its crop by the pecking action of its young.

What are these Ruffs doing?

These birds are also putting on a display, but for a different reason. Whereas most birds pair up in the spring to build a nest and raise a family, male and female Ruffs come together only very briefly at  this time. The male birds develop an elaborate head and neck plumage and they strut around in a special area of open ground called the ‘lek’.

Each defends his own small patch and all this showing off activity attracts the female to the lek. After selecting the males of their choice, they mate and then go off to build the nest and lay the eggs.

What are these Ruffs doing?

Male Ruffs develop a collar or ruff of brightly colored feathers in the breeding season. In American Greater Prairie Chickens put on similar displays to attract females.

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