Avesis thename ofthe classofanimalsthat have backbones and feathers. Aves meansbird. The place where birds are kept is called anaviary. Birds are the onlyanimalsthat have feathers. Birds also have wings and most of them can fly. Apenguinis also abirdbut this is the onlybirdon earth that does not fly.
Abird’s feather protects its body, keep it warm, and help it to fly. The small soft feathers under the larger outer ones are called “down” feathers. They form many small air spaces which help to keep it warm. When abirdflies, it spreads out its feathers to make a large surface against the air. Different kinds of birds have different colored feathers. Many are very beautiful and bright, such as cardinals,blue jays, canaries, and some parrots. The malebirdis usually brighter and more colorful than the female.
By observing thebird’s feet, we will learn something about their habits. Ducks and other birds thatswimhave webbed feet. Birds that wade, such as cranes, have long legs and long toes that keep them fromsinkinginto the mud. Birds that perched on limbs have strong feet that are shaped for grasping.Birds of prey, like hawks, have strong feet with sharp, curved claws
Many years ago there were some kinds of birds that had teeth. These birds have all disappeared. None of the birds of today have teeth. What they have now are hard beaks attached to their jaws. Thebirduses its beak to build nests, cares for its young, and gets food. It is possible to look at thebird’s beak and know what kid of eating habits abirdhas.
Birds that eat seeds have short thick beaks for crushing the seeds. Insect-eating birds have longer beaks. Birds that eat flesh are calledbirds of prey.Their beaks are strong and curved for tearing the flesh. The woodpecker uses its beak to dig holes in trees; its beak is shaped rather like a chisel.
Composition of bird’s body
Many parts of a bird’s body contribute to its flying ability. Its bones are light. Some are even hollow to reduce its weight. The bones are closely united so that the bird can make itself rigid. Then the air can support it. It has large strong muscles in its breast which attach to its wings. Its shape is streamlined. It offers a minimum of resistance when it moves through the air. It uses its tail to steer. This is its rudder.
Men have been building bird houses for many years. Long ago, Indians would cut holes in the sides of gourds and hang them on tall poles in their villages. Today, people in the southern part of the United States still follow this Indian custom and set out gourds for the friendly birds.
It is not wise to place bird houses too close together. Many birds want their houses to be the only ones in the garden. House wrens have been known to stuff twigs into neighboring bird houses which they felt were too close to their own. Birds will use houses over and over again if the old nests are removed.
Late summer is a good time to set out bird houses. Letting them weather over the winter makes them more attractive to birds looking for places to nest in the spring.
Most birds build their nests close to where they eat and live, using materials they find nearby. Birds that live in fields use weeds and grasses. Birds that live in forests use small roots and leaves. Those that live in marshes use cattails and rushes. Birds living near houses and gardens may use string, yarn, or pieces of paper.
It usually takes from two to eight days for a mother and father bird to build a nest. They may make hundreds of trips, flying to and from the nest with materials. One small nest may have as many as two-thousand different pieces in it.
Birds that lay their eggs diectly on the ground make the simplest nests. The killdeer merely scrapes out a shallow, saucer-shaped place in the ground and lines it with pebbles and bits of grass. The gannet, which lives on the steep cliffs at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, builds a nest by simply mounding a little seaweed and dirt on a bare rock.
The eagle and osprey build huge, heavy nests high in tall trees. Unlike other birds, they return to the same nests year after year. Most birds build a new nest each year. Some build as many as two or three a summer, one for each family they raise. Birds will often return to a familiar nesting site but build a new nest.
Many birds try to hide their nests with overhanging grass, tree branches, or other foliage in order to protect their eggs and young. Nests are usually lined with something soft, such as horsehair, fine grasses, plant down, flowers, or fine roots. This helps to keep the eggs warm and protects them from breaking.