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Weekly bird news roundup (Aug. 14)

The big bird news from the week of August 13.

Giant birds roamed the Earth during the age of dinosaurs

Even though scientists knew there were a number of huge birds when there were dinosaurs, they had no idea it was this many.

According to new findings, massive birds were more common than previously expected. The fossil of a bird’s head that measures about 12 inches long was discovered in Central Asia.

Imagine yourself having to look up to see the head of one of these large (probably flightless) birds.

Here’s a quote from one of the scientists:

“We can now be really confident that Mesozoic terrestrial birds weren’t all thrush-sized or crow-sized animals — giant size definitely evolved in these animals, and giant forms were living in at least two distinct regions,” Naish said. “This fits into a larger, emerging picture — Mesozoic birds were ecologically diverse, with lots of overlap between them and modern groups.”

The quest for the Andean cock-of-the-rock

This next article isn’t really news, but rather one man’s adventure in Ecuador in search of the Andean cock-of-the-rock, a beautifully bizarre looking bird.

John Huxley recounts his quest in The Sydney Morning Herald and reveals the hazards people go through to find new species of birds.

Hardcore birding is definitely not for the light-hearted as it requires true commitment to observe some of the world’s most exotic birds. This article is definitely worth a read for aspiring birders

Bird strike causes flight to return to airport

In yet another example of how birds and planes have an adversarial relationship, a plane en route to Los Angeles had to make an unexpected landing after hitting a bird in midair, according to the Sacramento Bee.

There wasn’t any word on what kind of bird it was, but one reporter wrote that turkey vultures are known to frequent the area. It had to have been a large bird to force the American Airlines flight into an emergency landing.

Here’s some more information from Ben Wear:

Private planes at Austin-Bergstrom have had problems with bird strikes at the airport, which just sits just north of two landfills that have a tendency to draw turkey buzzards. But Zielinski said it is unusual for an airliner to suffer a strike that necessitates returning to the airport.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.