Birding

Three pointing forward and one back

Photographing passerine birds in the Algarve

Going through my archives the other morning I was horrified to discover I have not posted a birding post for nearly five months. How on earth did that happen?! I thought I better rectify this pretty sharpish, and where better than with one of the largest order of bird classifications – commonly known as passerines. Most of them are omnivorous, but there are a few such as the shrikes which are carnivorous.Shrike

But what on earth is a ‘passerine’ bird I hear you cry. It is a term I have used myself in a previous post but it wasn’t until last Sunday that I looked up what the term actually means Passerines are the perching birds — technically members of the order Passeriformes. Birds in this order are characterized by having four toes, three directed forward and one backward, all joining the foot at the same level” [quote ref]

There are more 5,000 identified species within this classification, which is more than half of the world’s bird species. That is probably one of the reasons why I have so many examples in my photographic archives. All of the ones in this post are just a small selection of what I took in April and May of this year! Sometimes passerines are described as the songbirds, and it is true songbirds are passerines. However as you will have noted from this collection not all passerines are celebrated for their vocals!

The best way to identify a passerine is by its toe arrangement. It is technically called anisodactyl, and is beautifully demonstrated by the Sparrow, Zitting Cisticola, Black Headed Weaver and Sardinian Warbler below. However even that can be misleading so if you would like to discover more visit this excellent Passerine Definition blog post.

You never thought you’d learn so much on a Tuesday afternoon in August did you?!

3 comments on “Three pointing forward and one back

  1. I’ve been listening to and catching just the disappearance of some long tailed tits this evening, I hope they come back to stay. And I wish we had such a variety of birds in the UK!

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    • oh I love Long Tailed Tits, they make such an incredible noise and flit about so fast. There are tits in the Algarve but I hardly ever see them, I just see all these other amazing birds instead!

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  2. I can’t say I’ve ever taken much notice of birds’ feet before. A pair of magpies live in our neighbourhood and one has a deformed foot. All the toes go backwards and she walks on the knuckle. We call her Clubby, because it’s kind of like a club foot. I’ll be looking at all birds differently from now on. Lovely photos, Becky.

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