Know Your Bird
What is a Bird?
A bird is a two-legged feathered animal. It has a backbone and has the ability to keep its body warm through metabolism.
Where are Birds Found?
Birds are found all over the world in all continents and in some of the world’s highest mountains.
How many different Birds are there?
Like all living organisms birds are also classified into ‘species’. The House Crow is a species so is the House Sparrow and Rose-ringed Parakeet. Classified as this there are around 10,000 species of birds in the world. In India there are 1300 species of birds. There are 530 species of birds in Tamil Nadu and around 200 species in Chennai.
Do all birds fly?
Whereas the majority of birds fly, there are many like the Ostrich, Emu and Penguin that cannot fly.
Are bats birds?
Bats are mammals as they give birth to live young and the mothers raise the young ones on milk.
Do all birds lay eggs?
Yes. All birds lay eggs.
How many eggs do birds lay?
This varies with the different species of birds. Some birds like the Penguins and Vultures lay a single egg. Others like some species of fowl and ducks may lay more than 10 eggs.
Do all birds directly incubate their eggs?
Almost all birds incubate their eggs by brooding. However, birds like the Megapode, Scrub Fowl and Mallee Fowl lay eggs in mounds of sand where the eggs are incubated.
Do all birds build nests?
Most birds build nests. There are however birds like the Penguin and many other seabirds that do not build a nest. They place their eggs on rocks or on the ground.
Do birds have teeth?
No. All birds have a hard beak. They however do not have teeth.
How do birds keep their feathers clean and shining?
Most birds bathe in water. However, almost all birds have an oil gland at the base of their tail called the preen gland. The gland secretes oil that the birds rub on their feathers using their beaks. This keeps the feathers glossy. Some birds like the Cormorants do not have the preen gland.
Are birds related to reptiles?
Biologists believe that birds evolved from reptiles. Many prehistoric reptiles resembled birds. These prehistoric reptiles have been discovered as fossils in parts of Europe and China.
What are the reptilian characters in birds?
Birds have scales on their legs and hard beaks. All birds also lay eggs. Some birds like the Megapode, Scrub Fowl and Mallee Fowl lay eggs in mounds of soil. These are some characters believed to be inherited from their reptilian ancestors.
What makes bird feathers so colorful?
Bird feathers are colored by a combination of pigments and their intricate structure. It is this quality that help even fallen feathers retain their bright colors.
Do all birds sing?
All birds have the ability to make sounds. However only some birds can really sing. The birds that sing are called ‘song birds’ and they belong to an order of birds called Passeriformes.
Why do birds migrate?
There are various reasons attributed to bird migration. However the most common reason is that birds migrate from cold places to warmer areas to avoid the freezing winters.
How are some birds able to talk?
All birds have ears and can hear very well. Some birds are able to listen to the sounds in their surroundings and imitate them. Talking birds imitate human sounds.
Why do some birds live in human habitation?
Birds like the House Sparrow and House Crow have co-existed with humans for thousands of years. They have adapted to the food we offer and have learnt to find shelter close to or inside human habitation. They are called commensal birds.
Do all birds ‘stay married’ throughout their lives?
Many species of birds stay with their mates for their entire lives. However there are others that keep changing mates every year. Birds that change mates every year generally show considerable differences in color, size or shape between the males and females.
Are there poisonous birds?
Yes. Species of birds called ‘pitohuis’ found in the forests of New Guinea have poisons in their skin and feathers. They are the only birds that are known to be poisonous.
What are vultures?
Vultures are large flesh-eating birds related to eagles and storks. Unlike eagles and storks Vultures do not hunt and feed. Instead they feed on dead animals (carcasses).
Why are vultures rare today?
Vultures are no longer common as they do not get sufficient food. Where available the food is contaminated due to poisons from various chemicals that thousands of vultures have died after eating the contaminated food.
Why are House Sparrows no longer seen?
House Sparrows live in human habitation and prefer to nest inside our homes. They feed their chicks with tiny insects that are found in our gardens and fields. Today our homes are in the form of closed apartments offering little space for the House Sparrows. Also it is hard to find food for chicks in our urban gardens where all kinds of pesticides are used.
What can we do to conserve birds?
Learn to identify birds and enjoy watching them. Protect natural habitats in which the birds are found. Do not indulge in any activity that harms birds and their habitat.
Who is an ornithologist?
An ornithologist is a person who studies birds.
Who is India’s most famous ornithologist?
India’s most famous ornithologist is Dr Salim Ali. He wrote many books on Indian birds. The most popular book is the ‘Book of Indian Birds’.
What does the word avifauna mean?
Avifauna means all the species of birds found in an area. The avifauna of India is around 1300 species. The avifauna of Tamil Nadu is 530 species. The avifauna of Chennai is around 200 species.
Where does the word aviation come from?
The word aviation is used to refer to flight and it comes from the word avian which means bird.
What is an aviary?
An aviary is a collection of live birds. One or more birds kept in an enclosure such as in a cage.
Are there aviaries in Chennai?
There are a few private and government maintained aviaries in Chennai. The government maintained aviaries are in the Children’s Park and the Arignar Anna Zoological Park.