Birds are surely the most beautiful and colourful of all creatures on earth. They live in many places: on seashores, riverbanks, mountains, in forests and deserts and even in cities. They are more numerous than mammals and are found in a great variety of sizes and colours. They differ in the food they eat, the songs they sing, and in their ways of building nests and raising their young. Nature gives them the kind of wings, legs, beaks and claws or talons which best suit their life.
Birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles, are powerful flyers, capable of soaring through the air with great bursts of speed. They have strong, sharp talons, made for grabbing and holding on to their catch. The vulture’s feet are weaker because it feeds on prey already dead and does not need to kill it first.
Depending on the kind of food birds eat, their beaks are either blunt, sharp, spike-like, dagger-like, upturned or downturned. The ground hornbill’s axe-like beak is ideal for killing snakes and rodents like rats and mice. The flamingo’s curved beak has special bristles, perfect for sieving out tiny creatures from the soup-like mud on which it feeds. The ostrich, which cannot fly and lives on the plains, feeds upon seeds, berries and low plants. Its beak, therefore, is blunt and short. It does not need to grip and tear as does a hunting bird like the eagle. It is awesome to watch the majestic fish eagle swoop down, skim the water’s edge and pick up a slippery fish with its strong and large yellow feet and then lift its catch up in the air.
A bird’s body is both light in weight and very strong. The feathers, its most important possession, have been put together in such a way as to enable the bird to change direction in a fraction of a second. A feather is light and strong and although it can bend, it does not break easily. If a feather is lost or broken, a new one will grow. Apart from making it possible for a bird to fly, feathers protect the bird’s body from heat and cold and give it bright and lovely colours.
All through history man has tried to imitate birds. But however hard he tries to become master of the air, he can never match the flying skill of the creatures of the air.
One of the most popular characters in “Tales of the Full Moon” is Dudu, the Emerald-spotted Wood-dove. You can learn more about this beautiful bird by downloading our Afrycanimals app.