Hi Everybody!!

Hi Everybody!!
Welcome to my Hometown!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
Tonight a few bird facts: (1)-It is not necessary to know anything about birds. It is a choice to decide how to spend your time and what to learn about, if anything. The fastest growth in a hobby worldwide is Birding. (2)-You can put out birdseed and treats, but if you are in an area of no birds, you will see no birds. I built a bird habitat under the Migration Route and now birds come from everywhere! (3)-You can have the most expensive camera equipment pointed at a tree with a bird in view, but if the bird flies away, You will not get the shot! However, if you practice until your reflexes are faster than the bird, you will get the shot! Now these may not be the bird facts You would be interested in. For You, I have shared the real facts about birds from Wikipedia below along with photos of some of my birds on the last day of January. Enjoy and learn something new everyday!

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Birds (class Aves or clade Avialae) are featheredwingedtwo-leggedwarm-blooded,egg-laying vertebrates. Aves ranks as the tetrapod class with the most living species, approximately ten thousand. Extant birds belong to the subclass Neornithes, living worldwide and ranging in size from the 5 cm (2 in) Bee Hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft)Ostrich. The fossil record indicates that birds emerged within the theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, around 150 million years ago. Most researchers agree that modern-day birds are the only living members of the Dinosauria clade.
Modern birds are characterised by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelledeggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. Extant birds have wings; the most recent species without wings was the moa, which is generally considered to have become extinct in the 16th century. Wings are evolved forelimbs, and most bird species can fly. Flightless birds include ratitespenguins, and diverse endemic island species. Some species of birds, particularly penguins and members of the Anatidae family, are adapted to swim. Birds also have digestive andrespiratory systems that are uniquely adapted for flight. Some birds, especially corvids andparrots, are among the most intelligent animal species; several bird species make and use tools, and many social species culturally transmit knowledge across generations.
Many species annually migrate great distances, and many more perform shorter irregular movements. Birds are social, communicating with visual signals, calls, and songs, and participating in such social behaviours as cooperative breeding and hunting, flocking, andmobbing of predators. The vast majority of bird species are socially monogamous, usually for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, but rarely for life. Other species have polygynous ("many females") or, rarely, polyandrous ("many males") breeding systems. Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.
Many species are economically important, mostly as game or poultry. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets. Another use of birds is harvestingguano (droppings) for use as a fertiliser. Birds prominently figure throughout human culture. About 120–130 species have become extinct due to human activity since the 17th century, and hundreds more before then. Human acitivity threatens about 1,200 bird species with extinction, though efforts are underway to protect them.

Early evolution of birds





Cladogram following the results of a phylogenetic study by Godefroit et al., 2013.[1]
The earliest known bird (avialan) fossils currently known hail from theTiaojishan Formation of China, which has been dated to the late Jurassicperiod (Oxfordian stage), about 160 million years ago.[1] The avialan species from this time period include Anchiornis huxleyiXiaotingia zhengi, andAurornis xui. The well-known early avialan, Archaeopteryx, dates from slightly later Jurassic rocks (about 155 million years old) from Germany. Many of these early avialans shared unusual anatomical features that may be ancestral to modern birds, but were later lost during bird evolution. These features include enlarged claws on the second toe which may have been held clear of the ground in life, and long feathers or "hind wings" covering the hind limbs and feet, which may have been used in aerial maneuvering.[24]
Avialans diversified into a wide variety of forms during the Cretaceous Period.[25] Many groups retained primitive characteristics, such as clawed wings and teeth, though the latter were lost independently in a number of bird groups, including modern birds (Neornithes). While the earliest forms, such as Archaeopteryx and Jeholornis, retained the long bony tails of their ancestors,[25] the tails of more advanced birds were shortened with the advent of the pygostyle bone in the clade Pygostylia. In the late Cretaceous, around 95 million years ago, the ancestor of all modern birds also evolved better olfactory senses.[26]

Anatomy and physiology

External anatomy of a bird (example: Yellow-wattled Lapwing): 1 Beak, 2 Head, 3 Iris, 4 Pupil, 5 Mantle, 6 Lessercoverts, 7 Scapulars, 8 Median coverts, 9 Tertials, 10 Rump, 11 Primaries, 12 Vent, 13 Thigh, 14 Tibio-tarsal articulation, 15 Tarsus, 16 Foot, 17 Tibia, 18 Belly, 19 Flanks, 20 Breast, 21 Throat, 22 Wattle, 23 Eyestripe
Compared with other vertebrates, birds have a body plan that shows many unusual adaptations, mostly to facilitate flight.
The skeleton consists of very lightweight bones. They have large air-filled cavities (called pneumatic cavities) which connect with the respiratory system.[51] The skull bones in adults are fused and do not show cranial sutures.[52] The orbits are large and separated by a bony septum. The spinehas cervical, thoracic, lumbar and caudal regions with the number of cervical (neck) vertebrae highly variable and especially flexible, but movement is reduced in the anterior thoracic vertebrae and absent in the later vertebrae.[53] The last few are fused with the pelvis to form thesynsacrum.[52] The ribs are flattened and the sternum is keeled for the attachment of flight muscles except in the flightless bird orders. The forelimbs are modified into wings.[54]
Like the reptiles, birds are primarily uricotelic, that is, their kidneys extract nitrogenous wastes from their bloodstream and excrete it as uric acidinstead of urea or ammonia via the ureters into the intestine. Birds do not have a urinary bladder or external urethral opening and (with exception of theOstrich) uric acid is excreted along with feces as a semisolid waste.[55][56][57] However, birds such as hummingbirds can be facultatively ammonotelic, excreting most of the nitrogenous wastes as ammonia.[58] They also excrete creatine, rather than creatinine like mammals.[52] This material, as well as the output of the intestines, emerges from the bird's cloaca.[59][60] The cloaca is a multi-purpose opening: waste is expelled through it, most birds mate by joining cloaca, and females lay eggs from it. In addition, many species of birds regurgitate pellets.[61] Males withinPalaeognathae (with the exception of the kiwis), the Anseriformes (with the exception of screamers), and in rudimentary forms inGalliformes (but fully developed in Cracidae) possess a penis, which is never present in Neoaves.[62][63] The length is thought to be related to sperm competition.[64] When not copulating, it is hidden within the proctodeum compartment within the cloaca, just inside the vent. The digestive system of birds is unique, with a crop for storage and a gizzard that contains swallowed stones for grinding food to compensate for the lack of teeth.[65] Most birds are highly adapted for rapid digestion to aid with flight.[66] Some migratory birds have adapted to use protein from many parts of their bodies, including protein from the intestines, as additional energy during migration.[67]
Birds have one of the most complex respiratory systems of all animal groups.[52] Upon inhalation, 75% of the fresh air bypasses the lungs and flows directly into a posterior air sac which extends from the lungs and connects with air spaces in the bones and fills them with air. The other 25% of the air goes directly into the lungs. When the bird exhales, the used air flows out of the lung and the stored fresh air from the posterior air sac is simultaneously forced into the lungs. Thus, a bird's lungs receive a constant supply of fresh air during both inhalation and exhalation.[68] Sound production is achieved using the syrinx, a muscular chamber incorporating multiple tympanic membranes which diverges from the lower end of the trachea;[69] the trachea being elongated in some species, increasing the volume of vocalizations and the perception of the bird's size.[70] The bird's heart has four chambers like a mammalian heart. In birds the main arteries taking blood away from the heart originate from the right aortic arch (or pharyngeal arch), unlike in the mammals where the left aortic arch forms this part of the aorta.[52] The postcava receives blood from the limbs via the renal portal system. Unlike in mammals, the circulating red blood cells in birds retain their nucleus.[71]

The nictitating membrane as it covers the eye of aMasked Lapwing
The nervous system is large relative to the bird's size.[52] The most developed part of the brain is the one that controls the flight-related functions, while the cerebellum coordinates movement and the cerebrumcontrols behaviour patterns, navigation, mating and nest building. Most birds have a poor sense of smell with notable exceptions including kiwis,[72] New World vultures[73] and tubenoses.[74] The avian visual system is usually highly developed. Water birds have special flexible lenses, allowing accommodation for vision in air and water.[52] Some species also have dualfovea. Birds are tetrachromatic, possessing ultraviolet (UV) sensitive cone cells in the eye as well as green, red and blue ones.[75] This allows them to perceive ultraviolet light, which is involved in courtship. Many birds show plumage patterns in ultraviolet that are invisible to the human eye; some birds whose sexes appear similar to the naked eye are distinguished by the presence of ultraviolet reflective patches on their feathers. Male Blue Tits have an ultraviolet reflective crown patch which is displayed in courtship by posturing and raising of their nape feathers.[76] Ultraviolet light is also used in foraging—kestrels have been shown to search for prey by detecting the UV reflective urine trail marks left on the ground by rodents.[77] The eyelids of a bird are not used in blinking. Instead the eye is lubricated by the nictitating membrane, a third eyelid that moves horizontally.[78] The nictitating membrane also covers the eye and acts as a contact lens in many aquatic birds.[52] The birdretina has a fan shaped blood supply system called the pecten.[52] Most birds cannot move their eyes, although there are exceptions, such as the Great Cormorant.[79] Birds with eyes on the sides of their heads have a wide visual field, while birds with eyes on the front of their heads, such as owls, have binocular vision and can estimate the depth of field.[80] The avian ear lacks external pinnaebut is covered by feathers, although in some birds, such as the AsioBubo and Otus owls, these feathers form tufts which resemble ears. The inner ear has a cochlea, but it is not spiral as in mammals.[81]
A few species are able to use chemical defenses against predators; some Procellariiformes can eject an unpleasant oil against an aggressor,[82] and some species of pitohuis from New Guinea have a powerful neurotoxin in their skin and feathers.[83]

Feathers, plumage, and scales

 Owl with eyes closed in front of similarly coloured tree trunk partly obscured by green leaves
The plumage of the African Scops Owlallows it to blend in with its surroundings.
Feathers are a feature characteristic of birds (though also present in some dinosaurs not currently considered to be true birds). They facilitate flight, provide insulation that aids inthermoregulation, and are used in display, camouflage, and signaling.[52] There are several types of feathers, each serving its own set of purposes. Feathers are epidermal growths attached to the skin and arise only in specific tracts of skin called pterylae. The distribution pattern of these feather tracts (pterylosis) is used in taxonomy and systematics. The arrangement and appearance of feathers on the body, called plumage, may vary within species by age, social status,[85] and sex.[86]
Plumage is regularly moulted; the standard plumage of a bird that has moulted after breeding is known as the "non-breeding" plumage, or—in the Humphrey-Parkes terminology—"basic" plumage; breeding plumages or variations of the basic plumage are known under the Humphrey-Parkes system as "alternate" plumages.[87] Moulting is annual in most species, although some may have two moults a year, and large birds of prey may moult only once every few years. Moulting patterns vary across species. In passerines, flight feathers are replaced one at a time with the innermost primary being the first. When the fifth of sixth primary is replaced, the outermost tertiaries begin to drop. After the innermost tertiaries are moulted, the secondaries starting from the innermost begin to drop and this proceeds to the outer feathers (centrifugal moult). The greater primary coverts are moulted in synchrony with the primary that they overlap.[88] A small number of species, such as ducks and geese, lose all of their flight feathers at once, temporarily becoming flightless.[89] As a general rule, the tail feathers are moulted and replaced starting with the innermost pair.[88] Centripetal moults of tail feathers are however seen in the Phasianidae.[90] The centrifugal moult is modified in the tail feathers of woodpeckers and treecreepers, in that it begins with the second innermost pair of feathers and finishes with the central pair of feathers so that the bird maintains a functional climbing tail.[88][91] The general pattern seen in passerines is that the primaries are replaced outward, secondaries inward, and the tail from center outward.[92] Before nesting, the females of most bird species gain a bare brood patch by losing feathers close to the belly. The skin there is well supplied with blood vessels and helps the bird in incubation.[93]
Red parrot with yellow bill and wing feathers in bill
Red Lory preening
Feathers require maintenance and birds preen or groom them daily, spending an average of around 9% of their daily time on this.[94] The bill is used to brush away foreign particles and to apply waxysecretions from the uropygial gland; these secretions protect the feathers' flexibility and act as anantimicrobial agent, inhibiting the growth of feather-degrading bacteria.[95] This may be supplemented with the secretions of formic acid from ants, which birds receive through a behaviour known as anting, to remove feather parasites.[96]
The scales of birds are composed of the same keratin as beaks, claws, and spurs. They are found mainly on the toes and metatarsus, but may be found further up on the ankle in some birds. Most bird scales do not overlap significantly, except in the cases of kingfishers and woodpeckers. The scales of birds are thought to be homologous to those of reptiles and mammals.[97]


 Black bird with white chest  in flight with wings facing down and tail fanned and down pointing
Restless Flycatcher in the downstroke of flapping flight
Most birds can fly, which distinguishes them from almost all other vertebrate classes. Flight is the primary means of locomotion for most bird species and is used for breeding, feeding, and predator avoidance and escape. Birds have various adaptations for flight, including a lightweight skeleton, two large flight muscles, the pectoralis (which accounts for 15% of the total mass of the bird) and the supracoracoideus, as well as a modified forelimb (wing) that serves as an aerofoil.[52] Wing shape and size generally determine a bird species' type of flight; many birds combine powered, flapping flight with less energy-intensive soaring flight. About 60 extant bird species are flightless, as were many extinct birds.[98] Flightlessness often arises in birds on isolated islands, probably due to limited resources and the absence of land predators.[99] Though flightless, penguins use similar musculature and movements to "fly" through the water, as do auksshearwaters and dippers.[100]

Diet and feeding

 Illustration of the heads of 16 types of birds with different shapes and sizes of beak
Feeding adaptations in beaks
Birds' diets are varied and often include nectar, fruit, plants, seeds, carrion, and various small animals, including other birds.[52] Because birds have no teeth, their digestive system is adapted to process unmasticated food items that are swallowed whole.
Birds that employ many strategies to obtain food or feed on a variety of food items are called generalists, while others that concentrate time and effort on specific food items or have a single strategy to obtain food are considered specialists.[52] Birds' feeding strategies vary by species. Many birds glean for insects, invertebrates, fruit, or seeds. Some hunt insects by suddenly attacking from a branch. Those species that seek pest insects are considered beneficial 'biological control agents' and their presence encouraged in biological pest control programs.[102] Nectar feeders such as hummingbirdssunbirdslories, and lorikeets amongst others have specially adapted brushy tongues and in many cases bills designed to fit co-adapted flowers.[103] Kiwis andshorebirds with long bills probe for invertebrates; shorebirds' varied bill lengths and feeding methods result in the separation of ecological niches.[52][104] Loonsdiving duckspenguins and aukspursue their prey underwater, using their wings or feet for propulsion,[44] while aerial predators such as sulidskingfishers and terns plunge dive after their prey. Flamingos, three species of prion, and some ducks are filter feeders.[105][106] Geese and dabbling ducks are primarily grazers.
Some species, including frigatebirdsgulls,[107] and skuas,[108] engage in kleptoparasitism, stealing food items from other birds. Kleptoparasitism is thought to be a supplement to food obtained by hunting, rather than a significant part of any species' diet; a study of Great Frigatebirdsstealing from Masked Boobies estimated that the frigatebirds stole at most 40% of their food and on average stole only 5%.[109] Other birds are scavengers; some of these, like vultures, are specialised carrion eaters, while others, like gulls, corvids, or other birds of prey, are opportunists.[110]

Water and drinking

Water is needed by many birds although their mode of excretion and lack of sweat glands reduces the physiological demands.[111] Some desert birds can obtain their water needs entirely from moisture in their food. They may also have other adaptations such as allowing their body temperature to rise, saving on moisture loss from evaporative cooling or panting.[112] Seabirds can drink seawater and have salt glands inside the head that eliminate excess salt out of the nostrils.[113]
Most birds scoop water in their beaks and raise their head to let water run down the throat. Some species, especially of arid zones, belonging to the pigeonfinchmousebirdbutton-quail and bustard families are capable of sucking up water without the need to tilt back their heads.[114] Some desert birds depend on water sources and sandgrouse are particularly well known for their daily congregations at waterholes. Nesting sandgrouse and many plovers carry water to their young by wetting their belly feathers.[115]Some birds carry water for chicks at the nest in their crop or regurgitate it along with food. The pigeon family, flamingos and penguins have adaptations to produce a nutritive fluid called crop milk that they provide to their chicks.[116]

Feather care

Feathers being critical to the survival of a bird, require maintenance. Apart from physical wear and tear, feathers face the onslaught of fungi, ectoparasitic feather mites and birdlice.[117] The physical condition of feathers are maintained by preening often with the application of secretions from the preen gland. Birds also bathe in water or dust themselves. While some birds dip into shallow water, more aerial species may make aerial dips into water and arboreal species often make use of dew or rain that collect on leaves. Birds of arid regions make use of loose soil to dust-bathe. A behaviour termed as anting in which the bird encourages ants to run through their plumage is also thought to help them reduce the ectoparasite load in feathers. Many species will spread out their wings and expose them to direct sunlight and this too is thought to help in reducing fungal and ectoparasitic activity that may lead to feather damage.[118][119]


Many bird species migrate to take advantage of global differences of seasonal temperatures, therefore optimising availability of food sources and breeding habitat. These migrations vary among the different groups. Many landbirds, shorebirds, and waterbirdsundertake annual long distance migrations, usually triggered by the length of daylight as well as weather conditions. These birds are characterised by a breeding season spent in the temperate or polar regions and a non-breeding season in the tropical regions or opposite hemisphere. Before migration, birds substantially increase body fats and reserves and reduce the size of some of their organs.[67][120] Migration is highly demanding energetically, particularly as birds need to cross deserts and oceans without refuelling. Landbirds have a flight range of around 2,500 km (1,600 mi) and shorebirds can fly up to 4,000 km (2,500 mi),[121] although the Bar-tailed Godwit is capable of non-stop flights of up to 10,200 km (6,300 mi).[122] Seabirds also undertake long migrations, the longest annual migration being those of Sooty Shearwaters, which nest in New Zealand and Chile and spend the northern summer feeding in the North Pacific off Japan, Alaska and California, an annual round trip of 64,000 km (39,800 mi).[123] Other seabirds disperse after breeding, travelling widely but having no set migration route. Albatrosses nesting in the Southern Ocean often undertake circumpolar trips between breeding seasons.[124]
 A map of the Pacific Ocean with several coloured lines representing bird routes running from New Zealand to Korea
The routes of satellite-tagged Bar-tailed Godwits migrating north from New Zealand. This species has the longest known non-stop migration of any species, up to 10,200 km (6,300 mi).
Some bird species undertake shorter migrations, travelling only as far as is required to avoid bad weather or obtain food. Irruptive species such as the boreal finches are one such group and can commonly be found at a location in one year and absent the next. This type of migration is normally associated with food availability.[125] Species may also travel shorter distances over part of their range, with individuals from higher latitudes travelling into the existing range of conspecifics; others undertake partial migrations, where only a fraction of the population, usually females and subdominant males, migrates.[126] Partial migration can form a large percentage of the migration behaviour of birds in some regions; in Australia, surveys found that 44% of non-passerine birds and 32% of passerines were partially migratory.[127] Altitudinal migration is a form of short distance migration in which birds spend the breeding season at higher altitudes elevations and move to lower ones during suboptimal conditions. It is most often triggered by temperature changes and usually occurs when the normal territories also become inhospitable due to lack of food.[128] Some species may also be nomadic, holding no fixed territory and moving according to weather and food availability. Parrots as a family are overwhelmingly neither migratory nor sedentary but considered to either be dispersive, irruptive, nomadic or undertake small and irregular migrations.[129]
The ability of birds to return to precise locations across vast distances has been known for some time; in an experiment conducted in the 1950s a Manx Shearwater released in Boston returned to its colony in SkomerWales, within 13 days, a distance of 5,150 km (3,200 mi).[130] Birds navigate during migration using a variety of methods. For diurnalmigrants, the sun is used to navigate by day, and a stellar compass is used at night. Birds that use the sun compensate for the changing position of the sun during the day by the use of an internal clock.[52] Orientation with the stellar compass depends on the position of the constellations surrounding Polaris.[131] These are backed up in some species by their ability to sense the Earth'sgeomagnetism through specialised photoreceptors.[132]


Bargraph showing estimates of the main causes of bird mortality in the US
 Large black bird with featherless head and hooked bill
The California Condor once numbered only 22 birds, but conservation measures have raised that to over 300 today.
Though human activities have allowed the expansion of a few species, such as the Barn Swallow and European Starling, they have caused population decreases orextinction in many other species. Over a hundred bird species have gone extinct in historical times,[222] although the most dramatic human-caused avian extinctions, eradicating an estimated 750–1800 species, occurred during the human colonisation ofMelanesianPolynesian, and Micronesian islands.[223] Many bird populations are declining worldwide, with 1,227 species listed as threatened by Birdlife International and the IUCN in 2009.[224][225]
The most commonly cited human threat to birds is habitat loss.[226] Other threats include overhunting, accidental mortality due to structural collisions or long-line fishing bycatch,[227]pollution (including oil spills and pesticide use),[228] competition and predation from nonnativeinvasive species,[229] and climate change.
Governments and conservation groups work to protect birds, either by passing laws that preserve and restore bird habitat or by establishing captive populations for reintroductions. Such projects have produced some successes; one study estimated that conservation efforts saved 16 species of bird that would otherwise have gone extinct between 1994 and 2004, including the California Condor and Norfolk Parakeet.[230]

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...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See You next time!