The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.
This handsome bird was a very impressive hunter. I watched him for about 30 minutes while he hunted small fish in this pond. At one point his feet slipped from underneath him causing him to flap about! I guess you can be clumsy and still a good hunter!
The Indian grey hornbill is a common hornbill found on the Indian subcontinent. It is mostly arboreal and is commonly sighted in pairs. It has grey feathers all over the body with a light grey or dull white belly. The horn is black or dark grey with a casque extending to the point of curvature of the horn. It is one of the few hornbill species found in urban areas in many cities where they are able to make use of large trees in avenues.
The brown-headed barbet or large green barbet is an Asian barbet. Barbets and toucans are a group of near passerine birds with a worldwide tropical distribution. The barbets get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. The brown-headed barbet is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent, widespread in India and also seen in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is an arboreal species of gardens and wooded country which eats fruit and insects. Nonetheless, it is fairly tolerant of humans and is often seen in cities, in greenery. It nests in a tree hole, laying 2-4 eggs. The bird is largely frugivorous on mangos, ripe jack, papaya, banana, figs and similar cultivated fruit trees. Its habitat includes urban and country gardens though it tends to eschew heavy forest. It nests in a suitable hole in a tree that it will often excavate out, not unlike a woodpecker. A pair will take it in turns to incubate the eggs and they often communicate with each other using their Kura, kura calls. This is a relatively large barbet at 27 cm. It is a plump bird, with a short neck, large head and short tail. The adult has a streaked brown head, neck and breast, with a yellow eye patch. The rest of the plumage is green. The bill is thick and red. Sexes are similar. The white-cheeked barbet largely replaces this species in the Western Ghats and hilly parts of southern peninsular India although both species may occur in many places. The calls of this species is similar but the white cheek patch is distinctive. The call is a repetitive kutroo…kutroo…kutroo. Others take up the call when one starts. Somewhat silent in the winter.
The purple swamphen is a "swamp hen" in the rail family Rallidae. Also known locally as the pūkeko, African purple swamphen, purple moorhen, purple gallinule or purple coot. From its French name talève sultane, it is also known as the sultana bird. This chicken-sized bird, with its large feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily recognisable in its native range.
For the developers at New York start-up Networked Organisms, smartphones are the butterfly nets of the 21st Century. Their tool, Project Noah, lets people upload photos of plants and wildlife around them, creating a map of the natural world and contributing to scientific research in the process.
Bespectacled scientists of yore would carry around hefty field guides, made up of hundreds of pages of text and photos. But these days, smartphone owners have a lighter option: an app called Project Noah, which aims to help people identify plants and animals as well as collect data from "citizen scientists" about where certain species are located.
Project Noah enables us to be part of a more focused online community where we can learn more about wildlife around us and contribute to scientific research. It pulls participants into deeper, more meaningful engagement by enabling people to go on “missions” to collectively map changes based on sightings.
A modern invention that may also hold the key to saving species in the future. Project Noah is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter, using a purpose built phone app and web community. In addition to the virtual "collection" of species, Project Noah encourages citizen science by linking up with existing surveys including the International Spider Survey and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.