Birds

Some birds are so common that we forget that when we spot them, we're seeing wild animals. However, not all are so common and some are not so easy to ignore. Here are some top facts about our feathered friends.

Chaffinch

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves

Size

The world's smallest flying bird is the bee hummingbird, native to Cuba. At just 5.7 centimetres in length, it weighs in at a minuscule 1.6 grams.

Colour

Flamingos are pink because of their staple meal, carotene-rich brine shrimp. They also have 12 black flight feathers in each wing. Chicks are born with grey plumage, which turns from light pink to dark red, dependent on their food supply. Flamingos with pale feathers are usually unhealthy or malnourished.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Speed

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animal on the planet thanks to its spectacular hunting dive, or 'stoop'. After soaring to a great height, the peregrine falcon will turn and dive towards its prey at speeds of up to 320 kilometres per hour.

Nesting

The most sophisticated nests are built by swifts, whose homes form the basis of the expensive Chinese dish birds' nest soup. The nests are formed from birds' salivary cement and contain high quantities of minerals, like potassium and magnesium.

The Eurasian hoopoe wins the award for the bird with the foulest-smelling nest! Their interior decoration includes a vast amount of faeces. The foul stench is used to put off predators. The spectacular-looking hoopoe is included in the Old Testament's list of unclean birds.

White-throated hummingbird

White-throated hummingbird

Birds In Books

The fictional secret agent James Bond was named after a famous ornithologist, an expert on Caribbean birds. Ian Fleming said of the name: "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find; James Bond was much better than something interesting, like Peregrine Maltravers".

The most expensive bird books in the world are a set by Franco-American ornithologist John James Audubon called The Birds of America. In 1989 they were bought for an astonishing $3.96 million.