The Birds and the Bees – Exploring the Lore

Ever took the time to sit down and watch the interesting antics carried on by birds and bees? If you’re a gardener, then you know the importance of having these creatures within the garden. Most all plants and flowers depend on them for survival, and without the birds and the bees, many would simply cease to exist. However, did you know that while we may enjoy witnessing their works in action, we seldom are unaware of the unusual stories or facts behind them?

Have you ever thought about why birds are unique? Bet you thought it was on account of the fact that they can fly. Nope. There are other animals that can accomplish this, including humans. Birds are actually the only creatures that have feathers. Most of them also have bones which are hollow and filled with air. There are, however, exceptions. For instance, did you know that the Kiwi bird is often considered to be an honorary mammal? This is the only bird in the world that has external nostrils and flaunts a hairy-like coat as opposed to feathers. The Kiwi also has whiskers on its face and will build a burrow rather than a nest. Another bird known to nest in burrows is the burrowing owl; however, this bird chooses to use the hideaways of ground squirrels. Many birds will often forgo the task of building a nest and simply leave their eggs in the nest of another bird. Were you aware that the largest nest comes from that of an eagle? These can often be at least 12 feet deep and 10 feet wide.

There are so many birds that they can be hard to keep track of. Usually, when we think of birds, we imagine those such as robins, cardinals, blackbirds, etc. This is probably because they are more commonly known and seemingly average in size. Yet, birds come in many sizes. For example, did you know that the largest bird is the ostrich? This bird weighs in at nearly 300 pounds. The tallest bird in the U. S. is the whooping crane, which stands at 5 feet. Let us not overlook the smallest, of which include the bee hummer and elf owl. The bee hummer is only about 2 �¼ inches. The elf owl is so small that it weighs in at only 1.5 ounces.

Did you know that birds got their reputation as ‘nitwits’ due largely in part of questionable behavior in which many seem to exhibit? Hence, the term ‘birdbrain.’ Were you aware that most birds do not sing while on the ground? This is normally done while perched atop an object. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that birds actually dream. Bet you didn’t know that. Even more amazing is the fact that the albatross can sleep and fly at the same time. Imagine that. A hummingbird can actually fly backwards. Unfortunately, over 100 million birds die in the U.S. from flying into windows.

Were you aware that birds can eat up to 30 percent of their body weight every day? Do you know why flamingos are pink? It’s because they eat shrimp which are loaded with red pigment. Flamingos also turn their head upside down to eat. Hummingbirds are fast eaters and must eat a lot in order to keep up with their metabolism. Did you know that a hummingbird’s heart beats around 615 times a minute? Don’t feed an avocado to a parrots; this can be deadly to them. Ever heard of the tropical bee-eater? Yes, this is a bird. Did you know that this particular bird actually endangers itself by eating bees? If stung, it can prove to be fatal. Nonetheless, these birds usually accomplish this feat by catching the bee while in mid air and will beat the insect’s head several times against a hard object until the stinger breaks off.

Speaking of bees, did you know that these insects actually communicate with one another by dancing? Bees also have five eyes, and prefer flowers that are purple, blue, or yellow. There are around 15,000-20,000 types of bees. The most commonly known bee is the honeybee, which is also the most social. Were you aware that honeybees have four wings, or that they stroke them 11,500 times per minute? These bees will visit about 75 flowers in just one trip and fly about 15 miles an hour. They will also use the sun as a compass for finding their way around. On a single, summer day bees can collect nectar from about 250,000 flowers, making approximately 3,000 trips covering nearly 300,000 miles. There are typically three kinds of bees found in a hive, the queen, drone, and worker. The queen bee can lay up to 1500 eggs in one day. The drones’ only purpose is to fertilize the queen while the workers do exactly what their name implies, work. However, did you know that there is also an undertaker bee? Most worker bees die by the end of three weeks; shortly thereafter, the undertaker bee comes to collect the body and carry it away from the hive. Without the undertaker, the dead bodies would eventually attract predators or potential disease to the hive.

Birds and bees not only play a vital role in the garden, but these creatures exhibit many interesting characteristics as well. Birds deserve some recognition beyond that of unintelligent. Bees should not always be labeled as scary insects that sting. If you take the time to sit down and watch their work in action, you might find yourself learning something else you didn’t already know.

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