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How many birds are there on the planet? And more about Magpies, Kites, and Ibis | WBW Week 44

It’s time for another Bird Wrap!


Neil’s 4 great stories this week include:

1. All About the Australian Magpie

Another great question from a reader on my Ask Neil page. 

The male Australian Magpie tend to get a bit aggressive during breeding season as they eagerly attempt to protect their chicks. The breeding season differs in various parts of Australia. During this season, the males engage in an activity called “swooping.” This means that they actively engage in attacking humans as they walk by or ride by on their bicycles.

Here’s some trivia: Australian Magpies will often mate for life. However, if a male is killed while the young are in the nest, the female will take a new partner. The amazing thing here is the new partner will help protect the young even though he’s not genetically related to them.


2. Letter-winged Kite – Nocturnal and red-eyed birds!

This bird has large bright red eyes with dark markings around the eye giving a very round owl-like appearance. They have the black under-wing ‘W’ pattern. They mostly eat long-tailed rats, which breed in large numbers during wet seasons. If food becomes scarce, the nest and young may be abandoned.


3. Northern Bald Ibis or Waldrapp – returns to Croatia 200 years later!

Here’s a known fun fact: The Northern Bald Ibis, also known as the Waldrapp’s ibis is about 70-80 cm long. When it hatches, the bald ibis has feathers on its head but when he grows up, his feathers fall off and his head remains bare, which is why he got the name bald ibis. Fascinating!


3. How many birds are on the planet?!

Tough stuff. According to the research, there are approximately 50 billion individual birds in the world – or about six birds for every human on the planet. Watch the video until the end to know which birds are a part of “the billion club”!


Birding Tours

I would like to invite you to join me on my splendid birding tours – one is happening on December 2021 (and will be a monthly event) and the other is next year.

Beginners Bird Watching Walk – I lead bird walking tours in Canberra on the first Sunday of every month. The pace is easy and slow and the total distance covered is a few kilometres at the most. You will learn how to bird watch as well as seeing and understanding how to identify lots of birds. The first event will be on December 5, 2021. Head over to this page to book this tour!

Norfolk Island Tour – Join me and my brother, Michael Hermes on a personalised journey through Norfolk Island’s history, amazing wildlife and stunning scenery drawing on the knowledge and memories from my time as a Norfolk Island National Parks Officer and Michael’s background as an archaeologist working in places such as the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Queensland. You can book through this page.

I am very excited to see you all in any of these tours!

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