Opinion: Birds do weird things


Ever notice the weird things seagulls do? Like sitting on the beach, all facing the same direction. Or standing on one leg.

Apparently, there are reasons for these and other seagull oddities. Take facing the same direction. Turns out, they are facing into the wind. If they suddenly need to take flight, all they have to do is spread their wings, and like magic, they are lifted into the air.

How about the leg thing? Apparently, they do that to warm their legs, one at a time. Makes sense I guess since seagulls don’t have a lot of meat down there.

Gulls also like to glide through the air as close to the ground or water as possible. They do that for two reasons. Ground effect gives the birds increased air pressure close to the ground for easier flying. Over the water it gives them a better view of their dinner choices. Gulls will eat just about anything, but they prefer fish.

Pelicans use ground effect for long glides too. They also look a lot like pterodactyls from a science fiction movie, gliding silently across the screen.  They are usually looking for fish too, and when they spot one, they fold their wings, point their nose down, and plummet like a torpedo straight into the water.

I’ve unearthed a few other interesting bird things. The favorite meal of kelp gulls in South America is whale meat. The gulls circle overhead, and when the whale surfaces, it dives down and takes a bite. Reminds me of mosquitoes in my back yard last summer.

A male hornbill seals his mate inside the nest, leaving only a small opening for food. He doesn’t let her out until the young fledge.

Palm cockatoos attract mates by chewing off a tree branch and drumming against a tree with it. Swifts mate in flight – at 200mph. And those sweet, singing little house wrens? They will viciously sabotage the nests of all other birds in their own nesting area.

Nuthatches build a ring of resin around the edge of their nests to keep predators out. Wood ducks nest in high-up holes in dead trees. They fly straight into the hole at 65mph, proving they have the greatest braking system in the universe. And when the young hatch, Mom pushes them out the door. They literally bounce like rubber balls when they hit the ground.

A group of gulls is called a colony, while it’s an exaltation of larks, a peep of chickens, a gaggle of geese, a murder of ravens and a parliament of owls.

And, oh yeah, ostriches stick their heads in the sand looking for water.