Birds live and breed in most habitats around the world and are present in all seven continents. Certain areas do of course contain more species than others with the greatest diversity occurring in tropical regions. As well as land based birds, many species have adapted to life both in and on the worlds oceans with some seabird species only coming onshore to breed and penguins having been recorded diving down to 300 metres!
Many species have established breeding populations following introduction by man. Some of these are deliberate as with the Ring-necked Pheasant, which was introduced as a game bird and others as with Ring-necked Parakeets, by accident, following escape from captivity. Other species including Cattle Egret and Galahs have spread far and wide as agricultural practice has developed. Here at Birdworld we have many birds from many habitats and all of the species cards on the aviaries indicate the region and habitat from which they originate.
Shore and sea birds. These include birds that live on beaches, estuaries, marshes and many other coastal habitats. Many birds that live in these areas are waders or swimming birds having the ability to dive or sift for food with specially adapted beaks. To see birds from this habitat at Birdworld, visit either Penguin Beach, or Seashore Walk, where you can observe waders probing for food. Feature bird- Avocets. These dainty black and white wading birds are a key species in Seashore walk. They feed by sweeping their up curved beaks from side to side in brackish or saline wetlands and live together in loose colonies. The Avocet is the emblem of the RSPB.
Forest Birds. This covers a huge range of birds over many areas of the world. Forest is predominantly found in tropical regions but also temperate and cold climates aswell. Many species of birds live in the tree canopies but also on the ground below. Forest dwelling birds that can be found at Birdworld include parrots, owls, pheasants and many of the softbills such as Touracos, Hornbills and Fruit Doves. Feature bird- TocoToucan. This is the largest and best known of the Toucans, probably due to its fame as the Guinness bird! It has some very striking features including the thin blue circle of skin around the eye and also its huge bill, which although looks quite heavy is in fact largely hollow and therefore very light.
Wetland birds. Rivers and lakes form networks across many landmasses and these of course are the habitats of ducks, swans and geese. In addition there are also many wading birds that live in the margin areas and birds such as kingfishers that find their food around these watery worlds. At Birdworld there are many pond areas, which are home to a wide range of captive waterfowl but also many wild native birds such as moorhens and coots. Feature bird- Grey Heron. The Grey Heron is one of the wild species that you will find living at Birdworld. In the wild they wade with their long legs and then stand still before spearing a fish with their long sharp beak. Here in the bird park however, you will notice them sitting patiently in the trees waiting for any easy meals that may be left over by the penguins or pelicans.
Birds of the Plains. There are many large plains around the world including grassland, prairie and even deserts, which although inhospitable to us, do make a fine home for many species of birds. These types of habitat vary hugely but particularly in temperature variations. The birds that make their homes here are all shapes and sizes with diets including anything from seeds to meat.
Some of the plains dwellers that you may find at Birdworld include Rheas, Seriema, Parakeets and the Great Bustard, which is being reintroduced on Salisbury Plain. Feature bird- Rhea. This is one of the largest species of bird at Birdworld and is in fact the South American cousin of the Ostrich, which is the largest bird in the world. Rheas are flightless birds and gather in large flocks, often seen feeding with deer or cattle. When breeding, it is the male birds that incubate the eggs while the females will often move on to mate with other males and lay in new nests.
Domestic birds. As with all animals, many species of bird have become domesticated. This is because they can provide us with either eggs or meat or maybe are kept as pets. Many birds are farmed around the world including poultry or game birds and throughout history; birds of prey, although not domesticated, have been trained for hunting. Other types of birds are kept not only as pets but also as birds for showing or in the case of pigeons for racing as well. Pigeons were even used during the war for carrying vital intelligence and in some cases have even been honoured for their crucial role. Feature bird- Turkey. You will always find a large gang of turkeys on the Jenny Wren Farm at Birdworld and they are always willing to enjoy any bird food that you may have to offer them. Domesticated turkeys are a descendant of the American wild turkey and were introduced to Europe in the 15th century. In more recent times they have become popular as meat for Christmas so please excuse our turkeys if they look a little nervous towards the end of the year!