Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Birds and the Bees

Warning: Post may be offensive to be easily offended people. If you are offended by any of the following. then the Birder General's Warning says to stop reading the post.

1. Duck genitalia

"Do male birds have visible external reproductive organs?"

It's a question many of you have probably been wondering (no doubt without the scientific-ness and with much cruder terms, that won't be used here for obvious reasons).

The answer is most definitely yes and no.

An alarming number of birds, including passerines, lack a...thing. Both sexes possess a simple organ called a cloaca which is just an opening where stuff passes through. Ahem. This lack of fanciness  in reproductive systems is made up by the fact that in some passerine species, a single copulation can and often does last for almost an hour and thirty minutes. 

Most birds, like this Japanese White-eye, have a cloaca.

A few families of birds, however, do possess a...thing. The most notable are the game-birds, storks, and of course ducks. So guess which single species has the longest "visible external reproductive organ "of all?

Clue: You've probably seen one of these seemingly innocent, adorable, over-
endowed ducks on a lake before.

That's right. The RUDDY DUCK HAS THE BIGGEST PENIS IN THE BIRD WORLD! Did I offend someone by using that word? My sincere indifferences. 

...and here's the myth to go with it.

When birds were created, the supreme being-of-whatever-religion-you-believe-in granted all of them a special ability. The peacock got beauty, the herons got assassin skills, crows got intelligence, and eagles got majesty and the power to grab and rip apart other birds. 

The majority of ducks received the epic ability to traverse on water, land, AND air. Sadly, the Oxyura duck genus (includes Ruddy Ducks) had pathetic feet that would enable it to move on land for a few feet before falling flat on its face and being made fun of by every other single duck in the lake. 
So the supreme being-of-whatever-religion-you-believe-in gave the Oxyuras an extra huge thing. And all the other ducks on the lake got grabbed and ripped apart by a massive army of 1298 eagles.

OK, fine, I just made that up. 

Ducks are famous for having penises.

The Ruddy Duck's thing tops out at the extremely impressive total of 9.5 inches max. The Lake Duck has an even more impressive total but it lives in South America and 99% of us birders have never seen one so it officially doesn't count.


Oxyura's penises are corkscrew-shaped, similar to a drill.


Interestingly enough, extensive research shows that female Oxyuras often have corresponding tracts that don't follow the males' corkscrew shape minutely, which is an aid against forced copulation from the males.

There is probably a plethora of reasons why Ruddy Ducks have such long genitalia, but the main causes for this that are widely accepted by scientists is that the extravagantly long penises developed through competition among males, and that a megalong thing helps increase the possibility that the female's offspring will be his own.

You'll never look at a Ruddy Duck the same way again.

Happy birding,


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Healthy Dose of Interesting Bird Facts

A Healthy Dose of Interesting Bird Facts

Happy Birding!


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