Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

When Birds Ruled the Earth

Titanis walleri -- titanic, indeed!

A bird known as Titanis walleri made its home in Florida just a few million years ago. Titanis, as its name suggests, was titanic indeed - a flightless predator, ten feet tall, with a massive hooked bill. Titanis and other birds related to it belong to a group some paleontologists call the "terror birds." They were dominant land predators in South America for tens of millions of years. For more about Titanis walleri, visit the Hall of Florida Fossils online.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
When Birds Ruled the Earth

Written by Bob Sundstrom
 
This is BirdNote!
With the arrival of winter weather, we extend a helping hand to birds by filling up our feeders and birdbaths. [Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches calling]
But, looking back in time, there are some birds we would have been less eager to invite into our yards. One such bird was Titanis walleri [pronounced tye-TAN-iss WALL-er-eye], which made its home in Florida just a few million years ago. Titanis, as its name suggests, was titanic indeed—a flightless predator, ten feet tall. Its massive hooked bill, one authority writes, was “highly adapted for tearing flesh . . .” It was swift “and agile enough to run down fast-moving mammals.”* [roar]
Imagine a bird with a huge, ostrich-like body, a two-foot-long head, and an eagle-like beak nearly a foot long. Titanus likely preyed on animals as large as deer.
Titanis and other birds related to it—a group some paleontologists call the “terror birds”—were dominant land predators in South America for tens of millions of years. However, when the Panamanian land-bridge rose to link North and South America, mammalian predators from the north ventured south, ending the era of the terror birds.
And making it a lot less risky to go out and fill your bird feeder.
For BirdNote.org, I’m Frank Corrado.
###

Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Black-capped Chickadee recorded by R.S. Little.  Red-breasted Nuthatch recorded by R.C. Stein. Georgian marsh ambient recorded by T. Wiewandt.
Producer: John Kessler
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org   November 2011   Narrator: Frank Corrado

ID#111706titanisKPLU         titanis-01-FCr

* Quotation from: Feduccia, Alan. The Origin and Evolution of Birds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

 

Related topics:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More