Catching the fleeting scenes of many splendored life with a camera.
'Look closely. The beautiful may be small' — Kant

9 February 2015

Homing pigeon (Columba livia domestica), Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), Eurasian Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), and Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica) derived from the rock pigeon, selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances (up to 1,800 km). The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its nest and mate. Their average flying speed over moderate distances is around 80 km/h (50 miles per hour) but speeds of up to 140 km/h (90 miles per hour) have been observed in top racers for short distances. Homing pigeons are called messenger or carrier pigeons when they are used to carry messages. Pigeons can find their way back from distant places they have never visited before. Most researchers believe that homing ability is based on a "map and compass" model, with the compass feature allowing birds to orient and the map feature allowing birds to determine their location relative to a goal site (home loft). While the compass mechanism appears to rely on the sun, some researchers believe that the map mechanism relies on the ability of birds to detect the Earth's magnetic field. Scientists discovered on top of pigeon's beak large number of particles of iron which remain aligned to north like manmade compass, thus it acts as compass which helps pigeon in determining its home, and it looks like the trigeminal nerve plays a role in magnetoception, too. Some studies showed that pigeons also orient themselves using the spatial distribution of atmospheric odours, known as olfactory navigation, as well as low frequency infrasound. In areas they have previously visited, pigeons are probably guided by visual landmarks, such as roads and other man-made features, just like humans. However, various experiments suggest that different breeds of homing pigeons rely on different cues to different extents.

Homing pigeon (Columba livia domestica) portrait. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Homing pigeon (Columba livia domestica) strutting proudly. (by-nc-nd)

The Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) is a large species in the dove and pigeon family. It belongs to the Columba genus in the family Columbidae. In the colder northern and eastern parts of Europe and western Asia Common Wood Pigeon is a migrant, but in southern and western Europe it is an abundant resident. It breeds in trees in woods, parks and gardens, laying two white eggs in a simple stick nest which hatch after 17 to 19 days. Wood Pigeons seem to have a preference for trees near roadways and rivers. Most of its diet is vegetable  it includes round and fleshy leaves from Caryophyllaceae, Asteraceae, preferably young shoots and seedlings of cruciferous vegetables taken from open fields or gardens and lawns, grain, pine nuts, certain fruits, berries, as well as buds of trees and bushes in winter. Neither will wood pigeon turn its nose up at larvae, ants, and small worms. The bird needs open water to drink and bathe in. Young Common Wood Pigeons are fed by their parents 'milk'  an extremely rich, sweet fluid that is produced in the adult birds' crops during the breeding season, and as a result swiftly become fat.

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) feeding on berries. (by-nc-nd)

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) in a tree. (by-nc-nd)

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) on a branch. (by-nc-nd)

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus). (by-nc-nd)

Big wings don't seem to scare the pigeons off.

Black headed guls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) feasting.

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) is a species of true thrush. It’s found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. Depending on latitude, the Common Blackbird may be resident, partially migratory or fully migratory. It breeds in woods and gardens, building a neat, mud-lined, cup-shaped nest. Both sexes are territorial on the breeding grounds, with distinctive threat displays, but are more gregarious during migration and in wintering areas. The male of T. m. merula subspecies, native to most of Europe, graces us with rich melodious song every spring. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, berries, and fruits.

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) male) on a branch. (by-nc-nd)

Common pochard (Aythya ferina) is a medium-sized diving duck.
As usual, adult male is more showy than female – it has a long dark bill with a grey band, a red head and neck, a black breast, red eyes and a grey back, while the adult female has a brown head and body and a narrower grey bill-band. They breed in marshes and lakes with a metre or more water depth in much of temperate and northern Europe into Asia.

Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) female. (by-nc-nd)

The Eurasian common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (also known as the swamp chicken) is a bird species in the Rallidae family. Common moorhen lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals and other wetlands. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as eastern Europe, migrate to more temperate climes. This species feeds on a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage beside or in the water, either walking on vegetation or upending in the water. Despite being rather secretive and shy, the birds are territorial during breeding season.

Eurasian common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in the grass. (by-nc-nd)

I've managed to sneak up to the shag at last. To me, what is most distinctive about this bird is its beautiful emerald green eyes.

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) fishing.
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) resting. (by-nc-nd)

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

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