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The Book of Eggs: A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Species

The Book of Eggs: A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Species

Автором Mark E. Hauber

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The Book of Eggs: A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Species

Автором Mark E. Hauber

Длина:
2,783 pages
10 hours
Издано:
Aug 1, 2014
ISBN:
9780226057811
Формат:
Книге

Описание

From the brilliantly green and glossy eggs of the Elegant Crested Tinamou—said to be among the most beautiful in the world—to the small brown eggs of the house sparrow that makes its nest in a lamppost and the uniformly brown or white chickens’ eggs found by the dozen in any corner grocery, birds’ eggs have inspired countless biologists, ecologists, and ornithologists, as well as artists, from John James Audubon to the contemporary photographer Rosamond Purcell. For scientists, these vibrant vessels are the source of an array of interesting topics, from the factors responsible for egg coloration to the curious practice of “brood parasitism,” in which the eggs of cuckoos mimic those of other bird species in order to be cunningly concealed among the clutches of unsuspecting foster parents.

The Book of Eggs introduces readers to eggs from six hundred species—some endangered or extinct—from around the world and housed mostly at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include newly commissioned photographs that reproduce each egg in full color and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests where the eggs are kept warm. Birds’ eggs are some of the most colorful and variable natural products in the wild, and each entry is also accompanied by a brief description that includes evolutionary explanations for the wide variety of colors and patterns, from camouflage designed to protect against predation, to thermoregulatory adaptations, to adjustments for the circumstances of a particular habitat or season. Throughout the book are fascinating facts to pique the curiosity of binocular-toting birdwatchers and budding amateurs alike. Female mallards, for instance, invest more energy to produce larger eggs when faced with the genetic windfall of an attractive mate. Some seabirds, like the cliff-dwelling guillemot, have adapted to produce long, pointed eggs, whose uneven weight distribution prevents them from rolling off rocky ledges into the sea.

A visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most intriguing eggs, from the pea-sized progeny of the smallest of hummingbirds to the eggs of the largest living bird, the ostrich, which can weigh up to five pounds, The Book of Eggs offers readers a rare, up-close look at these remarkable forms of animal life.
Издано:
Aug 1, 2014
ISBN:
9780226057811
Формат:
Книге

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The Book of Eggs - Mark E. Hauber

substantial.

THE EGGS

WATER BIRDS

Whether soaring over vast stretches of ocean or hunting on long legs in a quiet stream, lake, or marsh, birds associated with water have evolved multiple times through evolutionary history. Despite the diversity of the appearance of their body shapes, beaks, and also the size, color, and patterning of their eggs, results of recent genetic studies on the relationships of all birds have revealed that some groups of birds specialized to aquatic habitats are more closely related than previously thought. Ducks and geese are distantly related to all other water birds, but the penguins, loons, albatrosses, and their allies have been found to be close to the storks, ibises, herons, pelicans cormorants, gannets, and frigatebirds. Another surprise is that flamingos and grebes are each other’s closest genetic relatives. Other aquatic groups include the rails and cranes (mostly inhabiting marshes) and finally the order of shorebirds, which includes sandpipers, plovers, gulls, terns, jaegers, and jacanas, and whose group name describes their most common habitat.

DIOMEDEA EXULANS

WANDERING ALBATROSS

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

42–53 in (107–135 cm)

INCUBATION

77 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

The Wandering Albatross, also known as the Snowy or White-winged Albatross, mates for life. Pairs attempt to breed every other year, nesting on remote southern islands that are free of most terrestrial predators. Breeding is a colonial affair, with these majestic birds settling in loose colonies where their neighbors are visible but separated by adequate pecking distance.

Laying just one egg, the parents invest heavily into raising the single chick. The hatchling has to be guarded for many weeks by at least one of the parents, while the other forages for food both for itself and to feed its progeny. This can be a successful strategy in the long run, provided that the adults survive. However, longline commercial fishing methods often snag and drown adult birds, and, because they lay only one egg, their populations do not recover quickly from declines.

The egg of the Wandering Albatross is elongated yet blunt on both ends; it is 4 x 2 in (100 x 50 mm) in size, and sparsely and finely spotted. It becomes soiled during the lengthy 11-week incubation period, during which parents take turns of several days sitting on the nest.

DIOMEDEA NIGRIPES

BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

25–29 in (64–74 cm)

INCUBATION

65 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

In contrast to most albatross species, which live in the temperate and subantarctic southern regions, the Black-footed Albatross occurs and breeds in the tropics just north of the equator. Its largest colonies, on the Laysan Islands off Hawaii, are currently protected by a no-longline-fishing zone 50 miles (80 km) offshore, so that breeding birds can safely feed and return to change guard with their mates incubating the egg or protecting the hatchling. One parent, whose mate had probably died, spent seven weeks without food or water before it was forced to abandon the unhatched egg and feed itself.

Adults begin breeding when they are seven years old (a long time for birds), forming a pair bond and mating every two years. Although largely isolated from predators on their remote breeding islands, failed nesting attempts due to adverse weather, accidents, or shortage of food can significantly reduce the reproductive rates of these birds, making them more vulnerable to habitat deterioration and adult mortality.

The egg of the Black-footed Albatross is dull white, speckled with rusty spots; it measures 4¼ x 2¾ in (108 x 70 mm) in size. Incubation lasts over two months; the parents take turns of two to three weeks each to attend the egg and feed the young chick.

PHOEBASTRIA ALBATRUS

SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

33–37 in (84–94 cm)

INCUBATION

65 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

Whether caught in fishing nets, hunted for its feathers, or killed by cats introduced to their remote island breeding colonies, the Short-tailed Albatross is at risk both at sea and while breeding. In addition, because adults typically do not begin to breed until ten years of age and lay just one egg per nesting attempt, populations are slow to recover from adult mortality or nest failure.

Nesting on remote oceanic islands is typically a safe and successful strategy for most seabirds—unless the island happens to be an active volcano! The larger of the two main colonies of this albatross is on the active volcanic island of Torishima, Japan. The good news is that populations there are growing (from as few as ten individuals to over 2,400 in the last 70 years). A pair recently appeared and bred on Midway Island off Hawaii.

The egg of the Short-tailed Albatross is dirty white in background, covered in a dense aggregation of red spots at the blunt end, and measures 4½ x 2⅞ in (116 x 74 mm) in size. Adults alternate with one another during the two-month-long incubation period.

PHOEBETRIA PALPEBRATA

LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

31–39 in (79–99 cm)

INCUBATION

65–72 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

Feeding and ranging strictly over the Southern Ocean, this species, which also goes by the names Gray-mantled or Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, is as close to an Antarctic breeding albatross as they come. Like other albatrosses, these birds mate for life, working together to nest, incubate, guard, and feed the young. Nesting alone or in small colonies, parents alternate in week-long bouts of guarding the egg or ranging away to find food. The chick eventually grows larger than the parents before it is abandoned to depart and feed itself from the ocean.

If the single egg in the nest is damaged or lost, the parents abandon their annual breeding attempt, and only return in the following year to try again. This leads to a slow rate of population growth, an important conservation concern if ecological and anthropogenic losses of eggs, chicks, and adults increase.

The egg of the Light-mantled Albatross is 4¼ x 2⅔ in (107 x 67 mm) in size, elongated, and white in color, with light brown-reddish blotching. After the long incubation period, the chick takes several days to hatch.

BULWERIA BULWERII

BULWER’S PETREL

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

10–11 in (25–28 cm)

INCUBATION

42–46 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

Petrels are strictly nocturnal when it comes to breeding: they arrive after sunset at their isolated island nesting colonies and depart before sunrise. They use a keen sense of smell to locate nests and mates, as well as to find food. In the vast open seas they can sniff out the pungent, oil substances released by potential prey. The Bulwer’s Petrel uses its long and thin wings to fly buoyantly just above the ocean, searching for plankton and other small prey to pick up from the water surface.

Adult birds are strictly philopatric to their nesting site, which means that they return year after year to the exact same site, and in the process, encounter their old mates, too! This species does not excavate its own burrows and instead uses naturally available rock crevices and subterraneous holes for nesting. Both parents take turn in incubating the eggs and provisioning the chick.

The egg of the Bulwer’s Petrel is beige-white in background color, immaculate, roundish, and measures 1⅔ x 1³∕16 in (42 x 30 mm) in dimensions. A few young, less experienced adults may lay two eggs, but the first is typically moved out of the nest chamber so that only one egg hatches.

DAPTION CAPENSE

CAPE PETREL

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

15–16 in (38–41 cm)

INCUBATION

45 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

The Cape Petrel, also called the Cape Pigeon or the Pintado Petrel, is one of the most abundant seabirds that can be seen following fishing boats and cruise ships in the southern Pacific seas. Its notable black-and-white checkered plumage makes it appealing and easy to recognize from long distances and the tendency to aggregate closely with others of its own species (conspecifics) and other petrels (heterospecifics) near potential food sources makes the Cape Petrel an even more memorable sight at sea.

Despite its relatively small size, the Cape Petrel is in evolutionary terms most closely related to the giant petrels. Similar to fulmars, adults defend their nests by vomiting foul-smelling stomach oils on approaching predators. Their main enemies are typically other seabirds, including jaegers (skuas); the remote oceanic islands where the petrels nest support no mammalian predators.

The egg of the Cape Petrel is clear white in color, and measures 2⅛ x 1½ in (53 x 38 mm) in size. Although parents take turns incubating the eggs, the male takes the first shift and his subsequent incubation bouts typically last a day longer than the female’s, perhaps to balance out the female’s efforts in laying the egg in the first place.

FULMARUS GLACIALIS

NORTHERN FULMAR

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

18–19 in (46–48 cm)

INCUBATION

50–54 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

The Northern Fulmar, also known as the Arctic Fulmar, is one of the most numerous northern hemisphere petrel species and, unlike most seabirds, its populations have been increasing for nearly two centuries. Today these birds still nest on typical remote and inaccessible cliffs, ledges, and rocky plateaus in loose colonies facing the sea. However, near human settlements, they have started to exploit the relative safety of building roofs for nesting sites.

Northern Fulmars are conspicuous and yet somewhat confusing in their appearance, as they come in several color morphs, from clear white to dark gray. The genetic basis of these color morphs is related to the different forms of the gene involved in the production of melanin pigments.

The egg of the Northern Fulmar is white in color, immaculate, and measures 2⅞ x 2 in (74 x 51 mm) in size. Both parents take turns to incubate the egg, and one always stays with the hatchling for the first two weeks of its life to provide it with safety.

MACRONECTES GIGANTEUS

ANTARCTIC GIANT PETREL

PROCELLARIIFORMES

ADULT BIRD SIZE

34–39 in (86–99 cm)

INCUBATION

55–66 days

CLUTCH SIZE

1 egg

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