terrestrial bird

Kodkod (Leopardus guigna)

The kodkod is the smallest cat in the Americas. It lives primarily in central and southern Chile and marginally in adjoining areas of Argentina. Since 2002, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as the total effective population may comprise less than 10,000 mature individuals, and is threatened due to persecution and loss of habitat and prey base. The kodkod has a small head, large feet, and a thick tail. Typical adult length is 37 to 51 cm. Kodkods are equally active during the day as during the night, although they only venture into open terrain under the cover of darkness. During the day, they rest in dense vegetation in ravines, along streams with heavy cover, and in piles of dead gorse. They are excellent climbers, and easily able to climb trees more than a meter in diameter. They are terrestrial predators of birds, lizards and rodents in the ravines and forested areas, feeding on southern lapwing, austral thrush, chucao tapaculo, huet-huet, domestic geese and chicken

photo credits: Mauro Tammone


“Bearfowl” are beasts with many names, names such as “bearcocks”, “beartits”, and “wangers”. Along with raptors, bearfowl remain one of the most widespread groups of terrestrial predatory “birds” in the world, 16 species found on every continent except Oceania and Antarctica.

Bearfowl are an iconic symbol throughout the world (even in our own), and play both villainous and heroic roles in myth. The Oco often poetically call them as the King of Birds, the Vollark see them as shepherds of the untameable horned beasts, while the Merics veiw them as nothing but nasty predators.

While most are completely carnivorus a handful of species consume plant matter regularly. One species, the Cloud Bearcock, is nearly entirely a herbivore. Beloved for their cute and colorful appearance, the cloud bearcock has become the face of the modern conservation, which despite the years of money and research put into them they seem impossible to concerve due to their lack of interest in sex and diet solely consisting of highly unnutritious plants.


The secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a very large terrestrial bird of prey. I was fortunate to spot it in East Africa, where it is usually found in the open grasslands and Savannah. Africans call it the Devil’s Horse and it is the national emblem of Sudan as well as a prominent feature on the Coat of arms of South Africa. Thanks to lightning-quick aerial kicks and stomps forceful enough to shatter bone, the secretarybird is a master at immobilizing dangerous prey. A much more formidable hunter than its crane-like appearance would suggest, it is even capable of vanquishing the deadly black mamba, the fastest terrestrial snake in the world. But this skill makes the bird a  popular pet for humans, who rob nests and raise young as Protection from snakes. Meanwhile, prey is becoming harder and harder to find due to habitat degradation. So, only a 100,000 of these bird now survive in the wild.

detectivescheper-deactivated201  asked:

Hi! How did you master drawing birds (Anatomy wise - The muscles and bone structure, etc)? 'cuz I'm kinda struggling with it at the moment. I can draw them free-handed without refs for a while, but it's only after I get their image embedded in my memory and then I go back and forth to check if it's in proportion with a few images on standby. Are there any good useful books on this? Thanks!

I’m so far from mastering it, it’s not even funny lol! But, thank you. Birds are a group of animals, just like how mammals are. And the diversity that mammals come in, birds do as well. Each species of bird has evolved for a certain purpose and their bodies change for that adaptation.But, how mammals can generally have the same features, birds can as well. 

What helped me was just studying them - seeing them in real life. Study the birds around your area. Get out and watch them for a bit, see how they move. I’m a huge birder, as you know, and I am constantly on the look-out for birds when out. I even drive over 200+ miles just to see California condors every once in a while to get my condor fix. It’s quite convenient to have birds in the household as well. It’s easy to see the anatomy differences (and similarities) of a perching bird such as my parrot and the structure of a terrestrial bird such as the King Quail we have. 

But, studying photos is a good way as well as video. One of the best first things to do is look at skeletal and muscle drawings. It’s easy to see how birds, even though they are not mammals, have the same basic structure, just moved around. 

Other than the placement of proper feathers, I often see people having trouble with the legs of a bird. I’m actually surprised to know how many people view birds with “the knee facing backwards” unlike a humans, but, in fact what people misinterpret as the “knee” is the bird’s ankle. The knee is more often hidden under feathers as it’s pretty high up on most birds. You can see it once in a while when some birds stretch out their legs. I find myself fascinated with bird knees. One of the best ways to see and study the knees is in, now don’t laugh, fried chicken or thanks giving turkey dinners. You can really see the general bird anatomy that way without all the feathers getting in the way lol!

Here are some photos and drawings to show you what I mean. Here’s a basic skeletal structure of a bird of prey such as a hawk. 

Take this Harris Hawk for a moment:

It’s sort of easy to see on a lean raptor such as a Harris Hawk where most of the anatomy under the feathers is. Studying tall lean birds like this is a good place to start. For a raptor like this, after studying bone placement in birds, it’s knee and breast bone might look something like this:

Probably not 100% accurate, but it gives you a push in the right direction. 

Like I said, Harris Hawks are a good bird to look at. As are these guys, Egrets:

It’s holy grail photos like the two above that help me out so much at times. The thighs are not too visible, but you can basically picture them because of how clear the anatomy is here. Egrets have perfect feathers for trying to see bird anatomy. 

Once you get the hang of knowing bird anatomy by studying stuff like this, you can even picture the body beneath the feathers on something like the photo below, which is very hard if you don’t know what’s really underneath. 

Basically something like that, without the wings.

When it comes to books…

Here’s the main ones that comes to mind.

The Inner Bird: Anatomy and Evolution by Gary W. Kaiser


van Grouw, Katrina. The Unfeathered Bird

This one is amazing. It’s got pics like this:

Well, I hope that helped some. :)

headless-horsepossum  asked:

I have a vague idea that opossums have pretty close ancestors going pretty far back into prehistory. Do you maybe have some Words about my many-toothed, trash-eating associates? Or ancient marsupials in general, maybe?

All living mammals belong to one of three clades, based on their methods of giving birth to their young.  Members of the clade Prototheria, or “monotremes”, lay eggs; members of Eutheria, or “placentals”, carry their fetal offspring in their uterus until they are fairly physically developed before giving live birth; and members of Metatheria, or “marsupials”, give birth to live young at the fetal stage and carry them in an external “pouch”.  While Prototheria is a very old and primitive group of mammals, Eutheria and Metatheria are believed to have emerged at around the same time.

The oldest known member of Eutheria is Juramaia, a tiny shrew-like animal that lived in China approximately 160 million years ago.  How Juramaia gave birth to its young is unknown; the internal reproductive organs used to classify placentals and marsupials do not typically fossilize, forcing paleontologists to classify extinct mammals based on their skeletal similarities to modern mammals.  However, as all living members of Eutheria are placentals, Juramaia was likely a placental as well.

The oldest known member of Metatheria, Sinodelphys, also lived in China, but lived about 35 million years later than Juramaia (although currently undiscovered older members of Metatheria are believed to have existed).  At the time of this writing, Eutheria and Metatheria are believed to be sister clades that share a common ancestor, one which predates both Juramaia and Sinodelphys, likely dating back to the Early Jurassic period.  Sinodelphys bears an extraordinary resemblance to a modern-day opossum—a ratlike animal that lived in trees, hunting insects and other small prey.  Again, however, it may not actually have been a marsupial; it may have given birth in some other way, but possessed skeletal features that place it within Metatheria regardless.

Based on the location of Sinodelphys’ fossils, Metatheria is believed to have originated in China, but eventually spread through all the continents of the world.  However, shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs, metatherians died off on all continents except South America and Australia.

The reasons for these metatherian die-offs are not entirely clear.  It was once thought that they were outcompeted by eutherians, but metatherians frequently coexisted with eutherians that occupied similar niches.  (Between you and me, this also strikes me as a bit of anthropocentrism – paleontologists assuming that eutherians, the mammal group to which we coincidentally happen to belong, became dominant by virtue of being naturally “better”.)

Whatever the reasons for their extinctions elsewhere, metatherians did exceptionally well in South America.  The dominant carnivores in South America, from 65 to 3 million years ago, were the sparassodonts – large marsupials that convergently evolved to resemble big cats, such as Thylacosmilus, pictured above.  They competed with the borhyaenids – marsupials that resembled hyenas – as well as terrestrial crocodilians and “terror birds”.

Meanwhile, about 23 million years ago, a different group of marsupials emerged.  Small and unassuming, they lived in the trees, high above their clashing macropredatory cousins.  They belonged to the order Didelphimorphidae, and they were the first true opossums.

Three million years ago, volcanic activity formed the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the two continents and allowing animal and plant life to transfer between the two.  Most South American marsupials went extinct – again, for reasons unclear.  The opossums, however, transferred northward, and became incredibly successful, thanks to their adaptability and ability to eat almost anything.  Today they range from Costa Rica to Canada, in both rural and urban environments.  While their strange South American relatives may be gone, it seems that opossums are here to stay.