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8 Decidedly Strange Facts About Birds

Would you vomit to protect your young? Could you bang your head against a tree trunk and not get a headache? Thought not. Birds are awesome.

1. Fulmars can vomit over a metre

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

Each Fulmar pair rears a single chick which they feed by regurgitating a greasy oil of fish offal and plankton. Any bird-ringer foolish enough to approach a young fulmar chick risks a face full of stinking oil which the bird can vomit over a metre.

2. Great Grey Shrike impale their prey

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

They look cute. They’re not. Shrikes are also known as “butcher birds” because of their habit of impaling their prey on thorns, just as a butcher hangs his meat on hooks.

3. A pint of Wood Pigeon milk?

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

Along with seeds and green foliage, Wood Pigeons feed their chicks with “pigeon milk” a secretion from their stomach lining. Not many birds can do this.

4. Razorbill – monster chicks

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

The Razorbill lays a very large egg for a bird of its size – the human equivalent would be a woman giving birth to an 18-20 pound baby.

5. Wheatear – the “white arse”

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

It’s the rump gives the bird the name Wheatear it has nothing to do with cereals, but is a polite version of “white arse”.

6. Ring-Necked Parakeet – released by Jimi Hendrix?

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

One urban myth is that Ring-Necked Parakeets were released by Jimi Hendrix to add ‘psychedelic colour’ to the capital.

7. Great Spotted Woodpecker – headache-free headbangers

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

Why don’t Great Spotted Woodpeckers get a headache? The have a spongy mass of tissue between their bill and skull which absorbs the impact of the strikes and prevents that “morning-after-the-night-before” feeling.

8. ‘a’ is for…..Golden Eagle?

BBC Radio 4: Tweet of the Day / Via bbc.co.uk

Our modern letter “a” written in lower-case is in fact based on the shape of a perched eagle, a throwback to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs adopted by Phoenicians when they developed the first alphabet.

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