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Manx Shearwater

The Manx Shearwater - Britain's oldest wild bird

1. Owls have no teeth and can't chew so they have to swallow their prey whole. They then store the indigestible bits of foods like bones, teeth, feathers and fur in their gizzards which their cough up in small pellets about 12 hours later.

2. Ducks' feet contain no nerves or blood vessels which means they can swim in freezing water. Their webbed feet act like paddles for the ducks but also mean that they can't walk and have to waddle instead.

3. Starlings are known to be excellent mimics, and have been heard to incorporate accurate copies of the sounds of other birds, frogs and mammals, and even mechanical sounds into their song.

4. Long-tailed tits make tennis ball sized nests out of moss, spiders' webs, lichen, feathers, and hair which can take up to 3 weeks to build. As the baby chicks grow the nest expands around them.

5. A bravery medal awarded to a pigeon which flew vital intelligence out of occupied France in World War II was sold at auction for £9,200 in 2004. The medal was awarded to Commando, a red chequer cock bird.

6. The largest living bird is the ostrich. This magnificent bird stands an impressive 2.74 m high and can weigh as much as 160 kg. The ostrich also lays the largest eggs which can take up to an hour to soft-boil.

7. Migrating ducks and geese often fly in V-shape formations because each bird flies in the upwash of from the wingtip vortices of the bird ahead. This extra bit of supporting wind increases lift, thereby saving energy.

8. There are only two known poisonous birds. The Hooded Pitohui, also called the "garbage bird" and the Ifrita from Papua, New Guinea. The toxin (homobatrachotoxin, a steroidal alkaloid) is concentrated in their feathers and skin, and is probably obtained from plants that they eat.

9. The sword-billed hummingbird, which lives in the Andes mountains of South America, has a beak that is longer than its body. It uses its beak to drink nectar from the long, tube-like datura flower.

10. In April 2002, a Manx Shearwater banded in 1957 when it was approximately 5 years old, was recaptured and found to be breeding on Bardsey, an island off the Lleyn peninsula in North Wales. At the age of 50 this is believed to be Britain's oldest wild bird.
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