That’s so raven… | 10 things we learned from Bill Bailey’s new bird book

That’s so raven…

10 things we learned from Bill Bailey’s new bird book

1. During its long migration, the bar-tailed godwit doesn’t eat, so to save weight the liver, kidneys and part of the alimentary canal are absorbed into their bodies, then reconstituted at the end of the flight. The process is called autophagy or autocannibalism.

2. Kestrels have such good eyesight can track a beetle from 50m away.

3. While most birds’ bones are hollow, the dipper’s leg bones are solid to reduce buoyancy and allow it to walk on the river bed.

4. A raven was once observed flying upside-down for half a mile.

5. The smallest bird in Britain is not the wren, but the goldcrest. A fully-grown bird weights about the same as a 5p coin.

6. But wrens are still tiny. One mute swan weighs the same as 1,400 wrens.

7. Superstition says that if a goldfinch looks directly at a sick patent they would get well, if they turned away, they would die. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote about the belief.

8. Herons vomit as a form of defence.

9. Magpies sometimes hold funerals. When one is killed on the road, a companion will squawk to get the attention of others; then the lay blades of grass next to the body before standing in silence for a few moments, then fly off.

10. Swifts can fly up to 500 miles in a day, so the oldest one ever recorded, 17 years old,  had covered 3million miles. That’s more than six round trips to the Moon.

• Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide To British Birds has been published by Quercus Books, priced £20 Click here to order from Amazon for £9.99.

Published: 8 Nov 2016

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