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Ornithology (Dictionary meaning term used for) (This page is under construction)

Ornithology Notes

Short History

A. Birds are ubiquitous and conspicuous everywhere

1. Snowy Owls - Arctic Circle
2. Sand Grouse - Middle east deserts
3. Finches - “Andean Mts
4. Penguins- hundreds of meters below Antarctic seas
5. Eagles & Parrots -rain forests
6. Buzzards, plovers and sparrows - across arid plains
B. Highly mobile creatures
1. nicobar pigeons - move continuously among Indonesian islands
2. Sooty shearwaters - migrate from coast of master
    Australia to CA & OR coasts
3. Arctic Tern - migrate from New England to Arctic
4, Rufous hummingbirds - from Alaska --> Mexico & often GA
C. Highly attractive
1. Bluebirds --> Painted Buntings
D. Birds and Man
1. Evidence that jungle fowl domesticated 3000 BC in India
2. “ Mallards & geese “ 1000 BC in Far East
3. Romans “raised” poultry/practice disappeared after “Fall of Roman Empire”
a. Reappeared in 19th Century Europe
            4. Falconry- recent upsurge following pesticide-induced down in Penguins
            5. Feathers as ornaments spread worldwide (birds now protected)
6. Birds in music
a. Operas- Robin sings in Madam Butterfly Swallows sing in La Boheme
b. America Pop- Mocking bird Hill, Rockin’ Robin, Bye Bye Birdie
7. Literature- Bible to Shakespeare to Audubon’s Birds of America
(1827-30) Ornithology of Shakespeare- 1871
E. Early History of Ornithology
1. 4th Century BC- Aristotle’s History of Animals
a. Land birds, water birds, etc.
2. 1st Century AD- Alexander of Myndos
a. 3 Volume work on animals- 2 volume for birds (Few fragments      survive today)
            3. 1st Century AD- Pliny the elder- 37 Volume Natural History Encyclopedia
            4. Much early writing good, but some not believable
                  a. Melian (170-235 AD) wrote that:
                        1. Cranes only flew against wind and
                        2. Cranes swallowed a stone for ballast
3.Cranes sentinels held stone in beak at night stood on one foot
a. If sentinel fell asleep, drop stone, wake up
            5. Many field observations began in 18th century
F. Ornithology Today
            1. Nikko Tinberger (gulls) and Konrad Lorenz (ducks and geese)
      Studies on behavior earned them Nobel Prize and lead to beginning of modern Ethology
2.Albert Szent-Gyorgyi won Nobel Prize for elucidation of Krebs Cycle in pigeon breast muscle
3.Payton Rous- Noble Prize Winner for studies of avian sarcoma that linked viruses to cancer for 1st time
            4.Neotropical migrants forewarn us of global deforestation and effects


      I. Intro
        A. Millions of years ago a small bipedal reptile lived among dinosaurs
                  1. Over time scales-> evolved into soft feathers
a. Feathers provided insulation to permit control of high Tb which allowed greater activity &   endurance
                              1.  Also permitted mobility- gliding & eventually flight
                              2. A new class- Aves was Born
      II. Basic Characteristics
            A. Birds are bipedal vertebrates
                 1. Possess uniquely—Feathers!
      a. Essential for both body temp. regulation & flight
2. All birds have bills
      a. Modern birds- it is toothless & covered with Horny Sheath
3. Flight also in INSECTS & BATS (Gliding in some Squirrels)
4. Bones unique
                        a. Reduced and fused
                        b. Hollow and Strutted for strength
                        c. Uncinate processes on ribs strengthen thorax
                        d. Furcula (wishbone)- compresses and rebounds like spring  during flight
                        e. Arboreal birds most abundant
                              1.Tendons cause automatic locking of claws to branch
                              2. Passeriforms (Perching birds)
                                    a. Special ratcheting mechanism- permit perching birds to sleep on branches
                                          1.Large opposable rear toe (Hallux) further enhances perching- unique in vertebrates
5. Avian Physiology
                        a. Large flight muscles- extraordinary work capacity
                              1. Also great for shivering thermo genesis
                        b. 1st complete 4-chambered heart in birds
                        c. Flow-through lungs &air sac arrangement unique in birds
                        d. Reproduction
                              1. Most elaborate external eggs of all animals
                                    a. No bird species bears live young
                              2. Most birds form monogamous pairs
                                    a. Facilitates elaborate parental care system
                                        for raising young
                                    b. Some have extra-marital sexual relations
                        e. Birds have large, well-developed brains & Senses
                              1. Brain 6-11 times of like-sized reptiles
                              2. Like primates- brains lateralized (left brain learning sand vocal
3. Highly developed neural systems & acute senses permit sensational feats of migration & communication                                         
      a. Song birds (Oscines) greatest sound producers of all vertebrates
b. Bird can navigate using polarized flight from Sun and Stars & possibly even Earth’s
                                        magnetic fields
                              4. Color Vision well-developed- even into near ultraviolet (near-UV)!!
5. Hearing- incorporates infra sounds (long waves travel greater distances - hear thunderstorms long before humans)
                                    a. Single ear bone (columella)=Stapes


III. Adaptive Radiation
            A. ~ 300 x 10 9 birds of bout 10,000 species currently inhabit earth    
            B. Earliest Known bird Archaeopteryx lithographica (155 x 10 6 yrs old)
                  1. Had feathers- Flight? (Glide for sure)
            C. Vast array of world birds in all habitats & sizes
                  1. Range in size from Hummingbirds(2 g) to Ostrich (100 kg)
            D. Vast array of bill sizes & Shapes
                  1. Varied diets- herbivores, granivores, insectivores, nectivores &
            E. Vast arrange locomotion patters
                  1. Swimmer, runners, soarers, agile acrobats, wing-propelled divers
            F. Many wing patterns
                  1. Flight, flightless, soarers, agile acrobats, wing-propelled divers
            G. Feet many shapes and sizes

IV. Bird Names and Classification
            A. ~10,000 species
                  1. Standardized official common names (but still local names)
                        a. Weaver Bird ( Baya)
                        b. Based on system of nomenclature developed in 1758
                             by Carolus Linnaeus (Swedish Botanist)
                              1. Binomial system
                                    a. Pied Tit ( Parus Nauchalis)

Comb duck = Nukta duck

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