Sunday, July 14, 2013

Screamer Birds

Its wings are equipped with horny spurs...

The screamer is one of several very odd birds.  It is distantly related to ducks and geese, but lacks webbed toes.  Its heavy, squat body reminds one of a duck.  The screamer's special feature is the pair of hard, horny spurs, rather like a cock's spurs, growing on the bend of the wings; these are used in combat with rival birds.  The crested screamer bird is the best known species, depicted below.  This bird also goes by the name Southern Screamer.  It averages 32 to 37 inches long and weighs anywhere between 6.6 to 11 pounds, on average. They are the heaviest, although not necessarily the longest, of the three screamers.  Their wingspan is roughly around 67 inches.  It is an inhabitant of the swampy wastes of the Matto Grosso and Paraguay, and leads a very secluded life in the thick of the swamp, among the exuberant papyrus grass and water plants.  It occasionally shows itself, perched on the trees which emerge from the swamp. Its low, resonant two-note call is reiterated several times in a row.

Screamer birds live in pairs, though they are sometimes seen in considerable numbers, especially at mating time.  Their diet is vegetarian, consisting of grasses and various marshland plants.  They frequently enter the water and swim, but since their plumage does not remain dry like a goose or duck, they are obligated to allow their feathers to dry off in the sun by standing with wings outstretched.  Screamers are certainly not good-tempered birds; in fact, they are prickly and pugnacious by temperament.  The inevitable outcome of an encounter between two males is a vicious fight, from which the loser retires seriously injured by his opponent's spurs.  Screamer birds have a peculiar respiratory aid, additional to their lungs, in the form of hundreds of air bubbles or auxiliary air sacs beneath the skin.

Image Source:  Southern Screamer -

Quick YouTube Video featuring Crazy Screamers:
[Video is no longer available]

---End of Post "Screamer Birds"

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