Shearwaters, Fulmars & Whale Birds (Procellariidae)

shearwater flying

The Shearwaters (The Procellariidae) are the largest and most diverse group of Petrels. The 66 or so species (the taxonomy of both Prions and Gadfly petrels is uncertain) can be divided into four subgroups: The name ‘Shearwater’ arises from the habit of some species of flying and gliding close to the surface of the sea. … Read more

Albatrosses: Proud Owners of The Largest Wingspan

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The word Albatross is supposedly an English corruption of the Portuguese word ‘alcatraz’ meaning large seabird. In this way it describes Albatrosses expertly. Weighing up to 11.3 kg (25 lbs) and with wingspans of nearly 4 m (12 ft) Albatrosses are among the world’s larger birds. Albatrosses can be distinguished from the other petrels because … Read more

Procellariiformes: The Order Of The Petrels

southern giant petrel

Petrels and Albatrosses, with their wandering life cycles and ability to be seen thousands of miles from any land, have fascinated mankind for hundreds of years. Albatrosses – as symbols of good luck – feature in one of the greatest narrative poems of the English language, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Even today, Albatrosses … Read more

Pipits, Wagtails & Longclaws: The Family Motacillidae

pipit with bug

The passerine family Motacillidae contains six genera of birds: The Pipits and Wagtails have a world-wide distribution, except for the islands of the pacific – but the Longclaws are restricted to Africa. The family is believed to be relatively modern with the oldest fossil records dating from the Miocene 6-7 million years ago. All members … Read more


mousebird sitting

Mousebirds (Family Coliidae) Mousebirds: The Gregarious World Of The Colliformes The Coliidae are a small order of 6 species of birds all in the one genus, Colius. Collectively they are known as Colies or Mousebirds, because of the way they clamber around in dense vegetation. They occur in Africa, south of the Sahara. Here are … Read more

Hornbills: The Wonderful World of Bucerotiformes

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Hornbills are very distinctive birds, often seen in aviaries and zoos as well as on television nature programmes. Their generally large size, bold pied colouring and noisy manner make them obvious birds in many habitats. Besides all this though, it is their oversized beaks – often decorated with large casques – and their unusual breeding … Read more