Watch the birdie!
Free as a bird.
While we’re at it, imagine running at speeds of 26 miles per hour, enduring temperatures of -80F or diving 689 feet below the surface of the water.
Seems almost as impossible as being able to fly, right?
For some our feathered friends, though, these features – and many more – are crucial for adapting to life in some of the world’s harshest environments.
Make no mistake; ornithology is not for the fainthearted.
From the early beginnings of observing birds and classifying them according to species, the ornithological world has taken great strides in discovering key concepts of evolution, behaviour and ecology.
The study of birds began with eager collections of eggs and skins, allowing ornithologists to compare species from different countries without the need for extensive travel.
More modern methods involve the photography and capturing of birds to mark and make detailed studies of their migration habits and demographics.
‘Why?’ you may ask.
Some wild birds can have a massive effect on agriculture – unsettling the crops of farmers – while large flocks of pigeon’s and seagulls can easily become an epidemic in urban areas.
Studying the habits of birds can also be useful in medical research as they tend to carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus or H5N1 – and analysis is crucial in understanding the treatment required for humans unfortunate enough to contract these ailments.
So come and have a flutter with me as I keep you in the loop with ornithological facts and stories – some of which are rarer than hen’s teeth…