Related topics: birds

Stress in early life has a lasting impact on male birds' song

Male songbirds that had better early life conditions as nestlings sing more often and produce more complex songs as adults, according to a study by Lucy Magoolagan from Lancaster University, publishing November 14 in the ...

Fly larvae clean bee-eater's nest

Bird nests are home not only to the bird parents and their offspring but also to other inhabitants, such as insect larvae, which take advantage of the favourable climatic conditions and abundant supply of food in the nests. ...

Nestle taps new CEO with health care industry background

Nestle has selected health care executive Ulf Mark Schneider as its new CEO, the first chief executive brought in from outside the company since 1922 as the food and drinks giant seeks to evolve into a nutrition, health and ...

Songbirds 'teach chicks before they hatch'

Many birds learn their songs from their parents, but what if they could get a head start? A new paper, published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, expands Flinders University research into how Australian fairy-wrens start ...

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Bird

Birds (class Aves) are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic (warm-blooded), egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) Bee Hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) Ostrich. The fossil record indicates that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, around 160 million years (Ma) ago. Paleontologists regard birds as the only clade of dinosaurs to have survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 65.5 Ma ago.

Modern birds are characterised by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. All living species of birds have wings—the now extinct flightless Moa of New Zealand was the only exception. Wings are evolved forelimbs, and most bird species can fly, with some exceptions, including ratites, penguins, and a number of diverse endemic island species. Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight. Some birds, especially corvids and parrots, are among the most intelligent animal species; a number of bird species have been observed manufacturing and using tools, and many social species exhibit cultural transmission of knowledge across generations.

Many species undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorter irregular movements. Birds are social; they communicate using visual signals and through calls and songs, and participate in social behaviours, including cooperative breeding and 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 life. Other species have polygynous ("many females") or, rarely, polyandrous ("many males") breeding systems. Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.

Many species are of economic importance, mostly as sources of food acquired through hunting or farming. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets. Other uses include the harvesting of guano (droppings) for use as a fertiliser. Birds figure prominently in all aspects of human culture from religion to poetry to popular music. About 120–130 species have become extinct as a result of human activity since the 17th century, 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.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA