The dodo was very easy to hunt, which is why the Portuguese named it after their word for “idiot.”  The Dutch settlers’ name for the dodo was walgvogel, meaning “disgusting bird.”

All chickens on earth are descended from the Gallus gallus gallus subspecies of the red junglefowl of Thailand.According to a medieval law that is still observed today, any unclaimed mute swan in open waters in England and Wales is property of Queen Elizabeth II, if she wants it.  This is the sort of tyranny that the Revolutionary War was fought over.

In a 1981 episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Big Bird revealed that he is a golden condor.  There is no such bird in real life.

Homing pigeon Cher Ami helped to save the lives of 194 American troops during WWI by delivering this message across enemy lines: “We are along the road paralell [sic] to 276.4.  Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us.  For heavens sake stop it.”  Cher Ami had been shot through the breast and lost a leg and an eye during her heroic 25 mile flight.

As they are too light to set off any of the thousands of landmines buried there in the 1980’s, penguins now thrive in the Falkland Islands where they may live unbothered by people.

The kakapo is the world’s only flightless parrot.  It lives in New Zealand, where it evolved extremely ineffective mating behaviors as a way to prevent overpopulation in a habitat where it once had no predators.  Kakapo mating calls are just barely audible, and females are only in the mood when a certain kind of tree is in fruit.

The plastic flamingo is the official bird of Madison, Wisconsin.

Busch Gardens invited male supermodel Fabio to take the inaugural ride on their new roller coaster Apollo’s Chariot on March 30, 1999.  During the coaster’s initial drop, a goose in flight struck Fabio in the face at a speed of 70 mph. Poor Fabio would require three stitches as the result, although the goose fared far worse.

The American woodcock is the slowest flying bird with a maximum flight speed of 5 mph.

Rather than sit on them, the Australian brushturkey buries its eggs in a giant mound of rotting leaves.  The heat released via the composting process incubates the eggs. Australian brushturkey chicks are on their own as soon as they emerge from the pile.

Scrooge McDuck’s net worth is “five multiplujillion, nine impossibidillion, seven fantastica trillion dollars and sixteen cents.”

Over the course of its lifetime an Arctic tern will migrate approximately 1.5 million miles, equal to three trips to the moon and back.

Julia Boaler of Sheffield, England drove herself mad when her $10,000 engagement ring disappeared from the window sill she had set it on during a shower in 2005.  She looked for it everywhere, even tearing up the bathroom floorboards until she gave up her search. Her fiancé finally found the ring in a magpie’s nest while trimming an oak tree in their garden three years later.

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman eats three mini powdered doughnuts between every inning he pitches.

Starlings are not native to the New World.  The American Acclimatization Society released about one hundred of the birds in New York City’s Central Park in 1890 and 1891 as part of an effort to introduce every species of bird Shakespeare ever mentioned to the United States.  About 200 million starlings now inhabit North America.

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New York City is home to a healthy population of monk parakeets.  Native to Argentina, these social, bright green birds descended from escapees from the pet trade in the 1960’s and 70’s.

 

By David Scheller