Portal:Birds

The Birds Portal

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Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Aves (/ˈvz/), characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5.5 cm (2.2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.8 m (9 ft 2 in) common ostrich. There are about ten thousand living species, more than half of which are passerine, or "perching" birds. Birds have wings whose development varies according to species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which are modified forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in some birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

Birds are feathered theropod dinosaurs and constitute the only known living dinosaurs. Likewise, birds are considered reptiles in the modern cladistic sense of the term, and their closest living relatives are the crocodilians. Birds are descendants of the primitive avialans (whose members include Archaeopteryx) which first appeared about 160 million years ago (mya) in China. According to DNA evidence, modern birds (Neornithes) evolved in the Middle to Late Cretaceous, and diversified dramatically around the time of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 mya, which killed off the pterosaurs and all non-avian dinosaurs.

Many social species pass on knowledge across generations, which is considered a form of culture. Birds are social, communicating with visual signals, calls, and songs, and participating in such behaviours as cooperative breeding and hunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators. The vast majority of bird species are socially (but not necessarily sexually) monogamous, usually for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, and rarely for life. Other species have breeding systems that are polygynous (one male with many females) or, rarely, polyandrous (one female with many males). Birds produce offspring by laying eggs which are fertilised through sexual reproduction. They are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.

Many species of birds are economically important as food for human consumption and raw material in manufacturing, with domesticated and undomesticated birds being important sources of eggs, meat, and feathers. Songbirds, parrots, and other species are popular as pets. Guano (bird excrement) is harvested for use as a fertiliser. Birds figure throughout human culture. About 120 to 130 species have become extinct due to human activity since the 17th century, and hundreds more before then. Human activity threatens about 1,200 bird species with extinction, though efforts are underway to protect them. Recreational birdwatching is an important part of the ecotourism industry. (Full article...)

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A mixture of seeds in a bird feeder

Bird food or bird seed is food (often varieties of seeds, nuts, and/or dried fruits) intended for consumption by wild and domestic birds. While most bird food is fed to commercial fowl (such as chicken or turkey), bird food is also used to feed pet birds or provide a feeding site for wild birds.

The various types of bird food reflect the species of bird that can be fed, whether they are carnivores, herbivores, insectivores, nectarivores, etc. Bird food can also differ by the feeding strategies employed by beaks in cracking the seed coat and obtaining the meat of the seed. (Full article...)
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Cirl bunting cropped.jpg
Cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
The buntings are a group of Old World passerine birds forming the genus Emberiza, the only genus in the family Emberizidae. The family contains 45 species. They are seed-eating birds with stubby, conical bills. (Full article...)
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Free online resources:

There is also Birds of North America, Cornell University's massive project collecting information on every breeding bird in the ABA area. It is available for US$40 a year.

For more sources, including printed sources, see WikiProject Birds.

WikiProjects

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The hyperpallium (formerly called the hyperstriatum or the wulst) is the destination for lemnothalamic projections in birds. The projections as well as the granular cells at the destination of the lemnothalamic projections to the hyperpallium are similar in morphology, electrophysiology, retinotopic organization, and columnar organization to the striate cortex in mammals. These avian granular cells are thought to have evolved independently in birds, as they do not appear in reptiles.

The projections originate in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus and target three layers in the hyperpallium: the hyperpallium intercalatum, the hyperpallium densocellularis, and the nucleus interstitialis hyperpalii apicalis, with the densest projections being to the later two layers. (Full article...)
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Selected species

Male in summer plumage
The eastern or American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), also known as the wild canary, is a North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from southern Canada to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter. The American goldfinch displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant yellow in the summer and an olive color during the winter months, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade which brightens only slightly during the summer. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate. The American goldfinch is granivorous and adapted for the consumption of seedheads, with a conical beak to remove the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads while feeding. It is a social bird, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. Its breeding season is tied to the peak of food supply, beginning in late July, which is relatively late in the year for a finch. Human activity has generally benefited the American goldfinch.


Did you know

  • ...that sexual size dimorphism in the brown songlark is among the most pronounced in any bird, with males as much as 2.3 times heavier than females?
  • ...that rufous whistler birds, unlike all other whistler birds, never forage on the ground but high up in trees or other high places?
  • ...that the bill of the magpie duck (pictured) becomes green as the bird gets older, and its black crown may go completely white?

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Taxonomy of Aves

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Sources

  1. ^ Platt, S.; Library of Congress (1993). Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. Barnes & Noble Books. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-88029-768-4. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
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