Study of Common Birds

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Study of Common Birds

Study of Common Birds

Birds make up the scientific class Aves. The

Birds make up the scientific class Aves. They are warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebratey are warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate

animals that are covered with feathers and possess forelimbs that have modified to become animals that are covered with feathers and possess forelimbs that have modified to become wings. Birds also have scaly legs, and no

wings. Birds also have scaly legs, and no teeth (except in a few earteeth (except in a few early fossil forms). Theyly fossil forms). They maintain a constant body temperature of about 41 de

maintain a constant body temperature of about 41 degrees C (106 degrees F).grees C (106 degrees F). All birds today have descended from

All birds today have descended from their flying ancestors, but a few their flying ancestors, but a few such as ostriches,such as ostriches, emus, some grebes, and corm

emus, some grebes, and cormorants have lost their capacity for aerial flight. Others, orants have lost their capacity for aerial flight. Others, such assuch as penguins, have become adapted to flying in a much denser medium, water. Birds are found penguins, have become adapted to flying in a much denser medium, water. Birds are found in all habitats, from the icy shor

in all habitats, from the icy shores of Antarctica to the hottest parts es of Antarctica to the hottest parts of the tropics, and fromof the tropics, and from mountains, deserts, plains, and forests to

mountains, deserts, plains, and forests to open oceans and densely urbanized areas.open oceans and densely urbanized areas. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe,

They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birdsfrom the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from the 5

range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) Bee Hummingbird to the cm (2 in) Bee Hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) Ostrich. The fossil2.75 m (9 ft) Ostrich. The fossil record indicates that birds evolved from

record indicates that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period,theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, around 150–200 Ma (million years ago), and the earliest

around 150–200 Ma (million years ago), and the earliest known bird is the Late Jurassicknown bird is the Late Jurassic Archaeopteryx, c 150–145 Ma. Most paleontologists regard birds as the

Archaeopteryx, c 150–145 Ma. Most paleontologists regard birds as the only clade of only clade of 

dinosaurs to have survived the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event approximately 65.5 Ma. dinosaurs to have survived the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event approximately 65.5 Ma. Modern birds are characterized by feathers,

Modern birds are characterized by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelledof hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. All living species of birds have wings -

All living species of birds have wings - the now extinct flightless Moa of Nthe now extinct flightless Moa of New Zealand wereew Zealand were the only exceptions. Wings are evolved forelimbs, and most bird species can fly, with some the only exceptions. Wings are evolved forelimbs, and most bird species can fly, with some exceptions including ratites, penguins, and a number

exceptions including ratites, penguins, and a number of diverse endemic island species.of diverse endemic island species. Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight. Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight. Some birds, especially corvids and parrots,

Some birds, especially corvids and parrots, are among the most intelligent animal species; aare among the most intelligent animal species; a number of bird species have

number of bird species have been observed manufacturing and using tools, anbeen observed manufacturing and using tools, and many sociald many social species exhibit cultural transmission of knowledge across generations.

species exhibit cultural transmission of knowledge across generations.

Many species undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorter Many species undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorter irregular movements. Birds are social; they

irregular movements. Birds are social; they communicate using visual signals and throughcommunicate using visual signals and through calls and songs, and participate in social behaviors including cooperative

calls and songs, and participate in social behaviors including cooperative breeding andbreeding and hunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators. The vast majority of bird species are socially hunting, flocking, and mobbing 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 monogamous, usually for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, but rarely for life. Other species have breeding systems that are polygamous ("many females") or, rarely, life. Other species have breeding systems that are polygamous ("many females") or, rarely, polyandrous ("many males"). Eggs are u

polyandrous ("many males"). Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the sually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents.parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.

Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.

Many species are of economic importance, mostly as sources of food acquired through Many species are of economic importance, mostly as sources of food acquired through hunting or farming. Some species, particularly

hunting or farming. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets.songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets. Other uses include the harvesting

Other uses include the harvesting of guano (droppings) for use as a fertilizer. Birds of guano (droppings) for use as a fertilizer. Birds figurefigure prominently in all aspects of human

prominently in all aspects of human culture from religion to poetry tculture from religion to poetry to popular music. Abouto popular music. About 120–130 species have become extinct as a

120–130 species have become extinct as a result of human activity since the result of human activity since the 17th century,17th century, and hundreds more before then. Currently about 1,200 species of birds are threatened with and hundreds more before then. Currently about 1,200 species of birds are threatened with extinction by human activities, though efforts are underway to protect them.

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Blue Jay

Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a common,

The Blue Jay is a common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest;its perky crest; blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after

with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.the last glacial period. Blue jays can make a large variety

Blue jays can make a large variety of sounds, and individuals may vary perceptibly in of sounds, and individuals may vary perceptibly in theirtheir calling style. Like other corvids, they

calling style. Like other corvids, they may learn to mimic human spemay learn to mimic human speech. Blue jays can alsoech. Blue jays can also copy the cries of local hawks

copy the cries of local hawks so well that it is sometimes difficult to so well that it is sometimes difficult to tell which it is.[4] Theirtell which it is.[4] Their voice is typical of most jays in

voice is typical of most jays in being varied, but the most commonly being varied, but the most commonly recognized sound is therecognized sound is the alarm call, which is a loud, almost gull-like scream. There is also a high-pitched jayer-jayer alarm call, which is a loud, almost gull-like scream. There is also a high-pitched jayer-jayer call that increases in speed as the

call that increases in speed as the bird becomes more agitated. This particular call can bebird becomes more agitated. This particular call can be easily confused with the chickadee's song because of the slow starting chick-ah-dee-ee. Blue easily confused with the chickadee's song because of the slow starting chick-ah-dee-ee. Blue  jays will use these calls to band together to mob potential predators such as hawks and  jays will use these calls to band together to mob potential predators such as hawks and

drive them away from the jays' nests. drive them away from the jays' nests. Blue jays also have quiet, almost

Blue jays also have quiet, almost subliminal calls which they use among themselves subliminal calls which they use among themselves inin proximity. One of the most distinctive calls of th

proximity. One of the most distinctive calls of this type is often referred to is type is often referred to as the "rustyas the "rusty pump" owing to its squeaky resemblance to

pump" owing to its squeaky resemblance to the sound of an old hand-operated waterthe sound of an old hand-operated water pump. The blue jay (and other corvids) are distinct from all other songbirds for using their pump. The blue jay (and other corvids) are distinct from all other songbirds for using their call as a birdsong.

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Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Aptly named, the Song Sparrow will sing as many as 20 different melodies with as many as Aptly named, the Song Sparrow will sing as many as 20 different melodies with as many as 1,000 improvised variations on his basic theme. In

1,000 improvised variations on his basic theme. In areas where the birds migrate, the areas where the birds migrate, the malemale arrives on the breeding ground ahead of the female and starts to define a territory by

arrives on the breeding ground ahead of the female and starts to define a territory by singing his song from three or four prominent perches.

singing his song from three or four prominent perches. The Song Sparrow is 5 to 6

The Song Sparrow is 5 to 6 inches in length, heavily streaked gray-brown upperparts. Duinches in length, heavily streaked gray-brown upperparts. Dullll white underparts have dark central breast spot, t

white underparts have dark central breast spot, thick streaks. Head has brown crown, palerhick streaks. Head has brown crown, paler median stripe, pale gray eyebrow, white

median stripe, pale gray eyebrow, white chin, dark brown moustache stripe. Rust-brownchin, dark brown moustache stripe. Rust-brown wings. Tail is long, usually tinged rust-brown.

wings. Tail is long, usually tinged rust-brown. Birds in some areas will vary,

Birds in some areas will vary, with paler subspecies in the Southwest and darker with paler subspecies in the Southwest and darker subspeciessubspecies along the West Coast. In early spring the

along the West Coast. In early spring the male sings constantly and defends his territorymale sings constantly and defends his territory.. When the female first arrives, the male will dive at her as he does with any other intruder, When the female first arrives, the male will dive at her as he does with any other intruder, but the female does not flee. In time the male will accept this behavior and the two will but the female does not flee. In time the male will accept this behavior and the two will begin to move about the territory together. At this stage the male will reduce his singing to begin to move about the territory together. At this stage the male will reduce his singing to only about ten Songs per hour.

only about ten Songs per hour.

Once the nest building has started, the male Song Sparrow will renew his singing. The nest is Once the nest building has started, the male Song Sparrow will renew his singing. The nest is cup-shaped and made of grasses and occasionally leaves, placed on the ground early in the cup-shaped and made of grasses and occasionally leaves, placed on the ground early in the year, and up to 30 feet

year, and up to 30 feet above the ground later in the above the ground later in the season. Although the male may carryseason. Although the male may carry nesting materials, it's the female who builds the nest. The female lays one egg each day until nesting materials, it's the female who builds the nest. The female lays one egg each day until the clutch of 3 to 5 green

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Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

The bald eagle, with its snowy-feathered (not

The bald eagle, with its snowy-feathered (not bald) head and white tail, is the proud nationalbald) head and white tail, is the proud national bird symbol of the United States—yet the bird was nearly wiped out there. For many

bird symbol of the United States—yet the bird was nearly wiped out there. For many decades, bald eagles were hunted for

decades, bald eagles were hunted for sport and for the "protection" of fishing grsport and for the "protection" of fishing grounds.ounds. Pesticides like DDT also wreaked havoc on eagles

Pesticides like DDT also wreaked havoc on eagles and other birds. These chemicals collect inand other birds. These chemicals collect in fish, which make up most of

fish, which make up most of the eagle's diet. They weaken the bird's eggthe eagle's diet. They weaken the bird's eggshells and severelyshells and severely limited their ability to reproduce. Since

limited their ability to reproduce. Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagleDDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have

numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs.been aided by reintroduction programs. These powerful birds of prey use their talons to fish, but they get many of their meals by These powerful birds of prey use their talons to fish, but they get many of their meals by scavenging carrion or stealing the kills of

scavenging carrion or stealing the kills of other animals. (Such thievery famously promptedother animals. (Such thievery famously prompted Ben Franklin to argue against the bird's nomination as the United State's national symbol.) Ben Franklin to argue against the bird's nomination as the United State's national symbol.) They live near water and favor coasts and lakes where fish are plentiful, though they will They live near water and favor coasts and lakes where fish are plentiful, though they will also snare and eat small mammals.

also snare and eat small mammals.

Bald eagles are believed to mate for life. A pair constructs an enormous stick nest—one of  Bald eagles are believed to mate for life. A pair constructs an enormous stick nest—one of  the bird-world's biggest—high above the ground and

the bird-world's biggest—high above the ground and tends to a pair of eggs tends to a pair of eggs each year.each year. Immature eagles are dark, and until they are about five years old, they lack the distinctive Immature eagles are dark, and until they are about five years old, they lack the distinctive white markings that make their parents so easy to identify. Young eagles roam great

white markings that make their parents so easy to identify. Young eagles roam great distances. Florida birds have been spotted

distances. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan, and California eagles have traveledin Michigan, and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska.

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Peacock

Peacock

Peacocks are large, colorful pheasants (typically blue and

Peacocks are large, colorful pheasants (typically blue and green) known for their iridescentgreen) known for their iridescent tails. These tail feathers, or coverts,

tails. These tail feathers, or coverts, spread out in a distinctive train that is more spread out in a distinctive train that is more than 60than 60 percent of the bird’s total body

percent of the bird’s total body length and boast colorful "eye" markings of blue, gold, red,length and boast colorful "eye" markings of blue, gold, red, and other hues. The large train is used in mating rituals and courtship displays. It can be and other hues. The large train is used in mating rituals and courtship displays. It can be arched into a magnificent fan that reaches

arched into a magnificent fan that reaches across the bird's back and touches the across the bird's back and touches the ground onground on either side. Females are believed to choose their mates according to the size, color, and either side. Females are believed to choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of these outrageous feather trains.

quality of these outrageous feather trains. The term "peacock" is commonly

The term "peacock" is commonly used to refer to birds of used to refer to birds of both sexes. Technically, onlyboth sexes. Technically, only males are peacocks. Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl.

males are peacocks. Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl.

Suitable males may gather harems of several females, each of which will lay three to five Suitable males may gather harems of several females, each of which will lay three to five eggs. In fact, wild peafowl often

eggs. In fact, wild peafowl often roost in forest trees and gather roost in forest trees and gather in groups called parties.in groups called parties. Peacocks are ground-feeders that eat insects,

Peacocks are ground-feeders that eat insects, plants, and small creatures. There are plants, and small creatures. There are twotwo familiar peacock species. The blue peacock lives

familiar peacock species. The blue peacock lives in India and Sri Lanka, while the in India and Sri Lanka, while the greengreen peacock is found in Java and Myanmar

peacock is found in Java and Myanmar (Burma).(Burma).

Peafowl such as the blue peacock have been admired by humans and kept as pets for Peafowl such as the blue peacock have been admired by humans and kept as pets for thousands of years. Selective breeding

thousands of years. Selective breeding has created some unusual color combinations, buthas created some unusual color combinations, but wild birds are themselves bursting with

wild birds are themselves bursting with vibrant hues. They can be testy and do vibrant hues. They can be testy and do not mix wellnot mix well with other domestic birds.

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