In the spring and fall, the vast majority of birds take to the air.
In the spring, they head north to their breeding grounds, and in the fall, they head south to overwintering areas that are warmer and have ample food supplies.
Migration can be a long and hard journey, and the bigger the bird, the harder it seems the journey would be as the bird has to keep its heavy body flying such a distance.
However, birds have a unique bone structure that makes flying and the rigors of migration easier for them — hollow bones!
A human bone is dense and filled with bone marrow. However, a bird bone is hollow and filled with air. It also has some cross-sections of bone, called struts, that make the bone strong and help birds withstand taking off, flying and landing.
One would think that having hollow bones would make a bird’s skeleton lighter than a mammal’s, but research has shown that a bird’s skeleton actually weighs about the same as that of a mammal. However, the hollow, dense bone is actually stiffer and stronger than a mammal’s, making it hold up to the pressure and rigors of flight.
You may have noticed that as the seasons change, birds begin to look different. What was a bright eastern goldfinch in the spring becomes a duller hue in the winter. A duck that had vibrant breeding feathers earlier in the year now looks a little drab. That is because birds molt. Their feathers wear out…Read More
We have many wonderful volunteers at the Dickinson County Nature Center, and one of regular front desk helpers loves to bring in articles with interesting animal facts. The last article she brought in from “Smithsonian” magazine told that the highest bird flight ever recorded was by the Ruppell’s griffon, a vulture native to Africa. It’s…Read More
Dark-eyed juncos have made their way to northwest Iowa to overwinter. Black-capped chickadees are flocking to feeders. White-breasted nuthatches are looking for nuts to get fat and ready for the cold. Food is a constant necessity for birds to survive through Iowa winters. Their feathers are wonderful insulators, but the food is what produces a…Read More
Birding is such a popular hobby because everyone can do it. Whether you are backyard birding, taking a hike or even boating, you can always catalogue the birds that you see. The he Dickinson County Nature Center features nests of some of the most common birds you might see right outside your window. (Grackles, blackbirds…Read More
More than 40 people attended last week’s Turkey Trot hike through Kenue Park and ended the Thanksgiving celebration by making their own pinecone bird feeders. If you didn’t attend, why don’t you grab the kids, head out on a wintry hike today, find some pine cones and make bird feeders of your own? (Okoboji seagulls…Read More