About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Try to count these birds: Red-billed quelea is the most abundant bird on the planet today

You think your birds are eating you out of house and home, just be glad you’re not feeding the Red-billed quelea (Quelea quelea).  Native to bush, grasslands, and savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa this small finch is the most abundant bird on the planet today.

Each day, queleas consume their weight in seeds from native annual grasses. Often referred to as ‘feathered locusts’, queleas can form nomadic super-colonies of up to 30 million, feeding on ripe sorghum, wheat, barley, rice, sunflowers and corn.
Red-billed Quelea distribution map

During the breeding season, hatchlings are initially fed caterpillars, grasshoppers and other insects, before being fed grass seeds. A colony in Namibia was estimated to comprise 4.8 million adults and 4.8 million fledglings, and consumed approximately 13 tons of insects and 800–1200 tons of grass seeds during its breeding cycle.

The video below shows 1.5 billion Red-billed quelea swarming over Africa’s savannah. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Red-billed_Quelea

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