Well, it seems that all my mail arrives at once! Three official Postcrossing postcards arrived today, along with one RR swap, and a card from my Mum.
I also got a Postcrossing message from DotDot (who sent me the cute Polar Bear postcard: Polar Pals) which told me the identity of some birds on a previous postcard I had received from Finland. I posted it on my blog here: Postcrossing Day. But I had not been able to give any information as I did not know the bird species.
So here goes courtesy of DotDot:
This crane species has a very wide ranging territory over most of Europe and much of Asia – being seen in over 80 different countries. Finland is the country with the third highest population of Eurasian cranes; although how this is determined I’m not entirely sure as they are a migratory bird. Perhaps they are counted where they nest. Birdwatchers in Britain are pretty happy these days, as a small population of Eurasian cranes has started breeding again in the Norfolk Broads after the species having been absent from the UK since the 1600’s.
These cranes prefer various types of wetlands for their nesting, and as with many wetland birds, they are at risk in areas where swamps and bogs are drained for farming, housing or industry. They are omnivores, which means they eat a wide range of vegetation, insects and small animals such as frogs lizards, snakes & mice, so are also put at risk when these small animals are poisoned.
Cranes are great dancers and singers as they use a complex sequence of moves and calls during courtship, and apparently just for fun and relaxation. They choose a partner for life, and males are equality involved with brooding and caring for the eggs and chicks – what a great example for us!
For a little entertainment – especially for the kids – here is a sort of ‘pick-a-path’ game to play about Crane migration.
Great Crested Grebe (Silkkiuikku) Podiceps cristatus
Now this one is kind of embarrassing, because I actually should have recognized it. It is very similar to the Australasian Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus australis). that we have in New Zealand. It could partly be put down to the fact that there’s only about 400 of them in NZ and this photo below is about as close as I’ve ever seen one.
Yes - there is a Grebe there!
But not reeeeally an excuse as I have seen perfectly good photos of our NZ Grebes!! Here is a picture of the New Zealand Grebes, from the Department of Conservation website: You can see that their crests and head coloring are a bit different than the European grebes.
Picture from New Zealand Department of Conservation website
The Great Crested Grebe, like the Eurasian Crane has a range that covers the greater part of Europe and Asia, with another sub-species living in Africa, and also migrates, although some populations only migrate locally.
One of the interesting characteristics of all grebes is that they generally build a big messy nest of sticks & reeds, and that sometimes these nests float free. These nests can be very fragile and easily endangered by the wake of motor boats. In New Zealand at least, the lakes that the grebes frequent are closed to motor boats. If you look at this picture on the ibc website you will see how at risk the nests can be.
One of the more endearing sights that you will see when watching a grebe family is the little stripy chicks riding on their parents’ back. The chicks are only allowed to do this for a few weeks before the parents tip them off. However this should be of little concern to the chicks, as they are born able to swim and dive quite well.
Whooper Swan (laulujoutsen) Cygnus Cygnus
The third bird species shown is the Whooper Swan (Laulujoutsen) Cygnus Cygnus, and is in fact the national bird of Finland. It features on the Finnish 1 Euro coin and is a rather elegant bird. Each Whooper Swan has a unique pattern of black & yellow on its beak that is as individual as a fingerprint.
Whooper Swans also mate for life and keep their chicks close for the first winter. They may form family groups with chicks from the previous seasons, and when it is not the breeding season gather in large groups up to 300-400 as they are a social bird.
The Swan is another bird that migrates and as a species roams over wide areas of Europe and Asia, and occasionally strays make it as far as North America. I have mentioned in a previous blog about the danger than wind turbines present to some migratory birds, and it seems that the Whooper Swan is another species that may be affected by this danger. However, they are not at present at any danger of becoming rare, as there is so many Whooper Swans spread over such a large area of Europe & Asia.
This website Birdlist.org http://www.birdlist.org/finland.htm gives a list of all the birds in Finland (and other European countries) including the name of the bird in Finnish.
So thanks DotDot for your information!