As of September 2020, scientists knowthe existence of 10 787 species of living birds. They differ from each other in size, lifestyle and other features. But among them there is a bird that stands out sharply against the general background. This is the so-called kitoglava (Balaeniceps rex), which lives in swampylocalities of Africa. While most birds have eyes on both sides of the head, the whale head has them in the front, just like a human. That is, it is one of the few birds that sees the world in three dimensions. But whale heads have many other features, which will be discussed in this article. First, let's figure it out - when was this bird first discovered and why is it so rare to see it? And then we will find out why some individuals are stationary for a long time.
Who is a kitoglav?
Kitheads were first discovered in 1849.They belong to the order of pelican birds and have a very large body size. Their height can reach 1.2 meters, and their wingspan is 2.3 meters. However, with such a huge size, their body weight is only about 7 kilograms. Most of them are peaceful birds, but hardly anyone wants to get close to them. Just imagine that a huge bird with a powerful beak is opening its wings in front of you. Hardly anyone wants to make him angry, because it is clearly not easy to resist such a creature.
And the look of these birds is very frightening.Their eyes are on the front of the skull, so their appearance can seem odd. Like all pelican birds, whale heads have a large beak. Scientists compare it to a wooden shoe and there are indeed some similarities. The beak is large and heavy, so birds have to put it on their chest during sleep.
What do birds eat?
But a huge beak was given to them by nature for a reason.Kitheads have long legs with widely spaced toes, so they easily live and hunt in the swamps of Africa. Usually the hunt takes place at dawn, but some individuals were seen doing this even during the day. With the help of a large beak, these birds catch and swallow fish, frogs, snakes, turtles and even small crocodiles. But before eating, they clear the beak of algae and only then swallow their victims. Sometimes they even rip their heads off to eat only the most delicious.
During the hunt, whale heads show greatpatience. Lowering their heads to the water, they can motionlessly wait for the appearance of a potential victim for several hours. This is used by photographers with pleasure, because during this time they manage to shoot the bird from different angles. In the German city of Walsrode, there is something like a bird zoo and there are whale heads. Apparently, many visitors find them in a motionless state. Because next to these birds is a sign "They still move."
Read also: Scientists have recorded the singing of the loudest bird in the world
How do birds breed?
In nature, whale heads live alone, and couplesform only during mating periods. The timing of these periods depends on the habitat. For example, in African Sudan, birds begin to mate after the rainy season. Little is known to scientists about how the mating season of these creatures goes. But they know that huge platforms with a diameter of about 2.5 meters serve as a nest of these birds. To twist them, birds use papyrus and reed stems. Within about 5 days, the female lays up to 3 eggs and warms them at night. Chicks hatch after a month and are raised by parents in turn. Kitheads use their large beak not only to get food, but also to bathe their young. At the age of 4 months they become adults, although only one of three chicks usually survives.
Most likely, it is with this that the fact thatwhale heads are on the verge of extinction today. There are only about 10,000 of them left in the whole world, so it is a great success to meet at least one of them in the wild. They are also dying out due to the fact that people are cutting down forests, depriving them of their natural habitat. And some people destroy their nests, although their eggs and chicks are of little value.
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