New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (commonly called the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous M ori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association), Tokelau, and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica). New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation: it is situated about 2000 km (1250 miles) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, a number of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced. The majority of New Zealand's population is of European descent, the indigenous M ori are the largest minority.
Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. ShorttitleOwlet-nightjars are small nocturnal birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. Most are native to New Guinea, but some species extend to Australia, the Moluccas, and New Caledonia. There is a single monotypic family Aegothelidae with the genus Aegotheles. Owlet-nightjars are insectivores which hunt mostly in the air but sometimes on the ground, their soft plumage is a crypic mixture of browns and paler shades, they have fairly small, weak feet (but larger and stronger than those of a frogmouth or a nightjar), a tiny bill that opens extraordinarily wide, surrounded by prominent whiskers. The wings are short, with 10 primaries and about 11 secondaries, the tail long and rounded.
The biodiversity of New Zealand, a large Pacific archipelago, is one of the most unusual on Earth, due to its long isolation from other continental landmasses. Its affinities are derived from Gondwana, from which it separated 82 million years (Ma) ago, New Caledonia and Lord Howe Island, both of which are part of the same continental plate as New Zealand, and Australia. More recently a component has been introduced by humans. New Zealand's pre-human biodiversity exhibited high levels of endemism, both in its flora and fauna. Prior to 65 Ma ago, the fauna included dinosaurs, pterosaurs and marine reptiles such as mosasaurs, elasmosaurs and plesiosaurs. The range of ancient fauna is not well-known but at least one species of non-flying terrestrial mammal existed in New Zealand around 19 Ma ago. For at least several Ma before the arrival of the human and its commensal species, the islands had no terrestrial mammals except for bats, the main component of the terrestrial fauna being insects and birds.
Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. In fact, according to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence. Like humans, many birds have enormous brains relative to their size. Although small, bird brains are packed with neurons that allow them to punch well above their weight.In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds and how it came about. As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research - the distant laboratories of Barbados and New Caledonia, the great tit communities of the United Kingdom and the bowerbird habitats of Australia, the ravaged mid-Atlantic coast after Hurricane Sandy and the warming mountains of central Virginia and the western states - Ackerman not only tells the story of the recently uncovered genius of birds but also delves deeply into the latest findings about the bird brain itself that are revolutionizing our view of what it means to be intelligent.Consider, as Ackerman does, the Clark's nutcracker, a bird that can hide as many as 30,000 seeds over dozens of square miles and remember where it put them several months later, the mockingbirds and thrashers, species that can store 200 to 2,000 different songs in a brain a thousand times smaller than ours, the well-known pigeon, which knows where it's going, even thousands of miles from familiar territory, and the New Caledonian crow, an impressive bird that makes its own tools.But beyond highlighting how birds use their unique genius in technical ways, Ackerman points out the impressive social smarts of birds. They deceive and manipulate. They eavesdrop. They display a strong sense of fairness. They give gifts. They play keep-away and tug-of-war. They tease. They share. They cultivate social networks. They vie for status. They kiss to console one another. They teach their young. They blackmail their parents. They alert one another to danger. They summon witnesses to the death of a peer. They may even grieve.This elegant scientific investigation and travelogue weaves personal anecdotes with fascinating science. Ackerman delivers an extraordinary story that will both give readers a new appreciation for the exceptional talents of birds and let them discover what birds can reveal about our changing world.