Birds (Class Aves)

 

Activity:

It's A Bird!  (ages 5 and up)

Find a comfortable place to sit in your yard or on your porch or balcony. Close your eyes - do you hear birds singing?  Count each sound you hear silently on your fingers. Ask yourself:

How many different sounds do I hear?

Was the sound made by a bird? (some frogs and insects can sound like birds too)

Which direction did the sound come from?

Was each different sound made by a different bird?

After a while, open your eyes.  Keep listening.  Can you find the birds you heard singing?

The first birds appeared on Earth about 150 million years ago, and most of the birds you'll find today have been around for at least 40 million years.  Currently, there are 8,500 different species (kinds) of birds.  Birds can be very large, like an ostrich, or very small, like a hummingbird, or just about any size in between.

Birds are vertebrate animals—that means they have a backbone.  They breathe air and are warm-blooded, so their internal body temperature stays pretty much the same all year long.  Birds are the only animals that have feathers.  All birds have wings, but not every bird can fly.

In order to fly, a bird needs a very special kind of body.  Birds usually don't weigh very much for their size.  Their bones have cavities filled with air, and heavy jawbones and teeth are replaced by a strong, lightweight beak.  The power for flight comes from very strong muscles attached to the enlarged breastbone.

All birds begin their life in an egg.  The parent bird incubates (keeps warm) the egg as the young bird inside develops.  Some baby birds are naked and blind when they hatch.  These babies stay in their nest, fed and protected by their parents, until they are old enough to learn how to fly.  Other baby birds have downy feathers when they hatch.  As soon as these chicks dry they can follow their parents out of the nest on foot.  They won't learn to fly until they grow new feathers to replace the downy ones.

Fast Facts:

  • All birds have a backbone.

  • All birds breath air.

  • All birds are warm-blooded.

  • All birds lay eggs.

  • All birds have feathers.

  • Birds first appeared on Earth 150 million years.

  • There are 8,500 different species of birds alive today.

Bird Diversity

Birds are divided up into groups of related animals, called Orders.  Below you'll find the name of the most common orders and some examples.

 

Photo

Order

Examples

   Adelie Penguins from Antarctica

Sphenisciformes (sfe-NIS-i-FOR-meez)

penguins

Common Loon - North America

Gaviiformes (Gave-i-FOR-meez)

loons

  Blue footed Booby from the Galapagos

Pelecaniformes (PEL-e-can-i-FOR-meez)

pelicans, boobies, cormorants, frigatebirds

Snowy Egret from North America

Ciconiiformes (si-KO-ne-i-FOR-meez)
(Wading Birds)

herons, egrets, storks, flamingos

Canada Geese from North America

Anseriformes (AN-ser-i-FOR-meez)
(Waterfowl and Screamers)

ducks, geese, swans

Peregrine Falcon - North America

Falconiformes (FAL-kon-i-FOR-meez)
(Birds of Prey, Raptors)

vultures, hawks, eagles, ospreys, falcons

Mourning Doves - North America

Columbiformes (co-LUM-bi-FOR-meez)

pigeons, doves, sandgrouse

   Scarlet Macaw - South America

Psittaciformes (SIT-ta-si-FOR-meez)

parrots, lories, macaws

  Great Gray Owl - North America

Strigiformes (STRIJ-i-FOR-meez)

owls

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - North America

Apodiformes (a-POD-i-FOR-meez)

swifts, hummingbirds

  Pileated Woodpecker - North America

Piciformes (PIS-i-FOR-meez)

woodpeckers, toucans, barbets

Chipping Sparrows - North America

Passeriformes (PAS-er-i-FOR-meez)
(Songbirds)

swallows, larks, crows, sparrows, and many other perching birds

IWRC Home Page Camp Cottontail Wildlife Facts All About Birds