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The lores of nature

April 26, 2014

_MG_4982The part of a bird’s head between the eye and the beak is termed the lores. Even though all birds have them, for most birds the lores do not get a mention in any field guide. However for some bird species the lores are critical for identification purposes. An example is the Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus). The red-brown lores and eye-ring of the female fairy-wren (see picture left) distinguish it from other fairy-wren species.

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For another local resident, the Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica), the colour of the lores is one of the features that distinguish the male (pictured right) from the female, the male having white lores, the female grey.

 

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DSCN3965A recent visitor to our dam has been a Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), pictured left. The lores on this specie are not feathered but comprised of bare skin. The colour and intensity of the lores can also indicate breeding status, level of aggression and the extent of any stresses the bird might be under.

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There are no lores against Black Snakes

There are no lores against Black Snakes

Birds are not the only creature with lores. Reptiles and amphibians have them too. In snakes the scale between the eye and the nose is called the loreal scale (not a weighing device for cosmetics). Interestingly, this scale is missing in snakes of the Elapidae family – 99 venomous species in Australia including our local Tiger Snakes, Black Snakes and Brown Snakes. So if you see a snake whilst you are bush-walking, the absence of a loreal scale should tell you to keep clear. Of course to get close enough to see that you would have to disable the snake. And there are laws against that.

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