Bird identification

Bird identification

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I got a statuette of a bird, carved of semi-precious minerals, but with its tail broken off. I'd like to restore it, rebuild the tail, but I'd first need to know how it should look like. Can you help me identify the species this is modelled after? (… unless it's just artistic license of the anonymous author… )

Obviously, the tail is missing.

If you would need the photos from a different angle or whatever description I could provide of its features, just tell me what you need, and I'll add the extra data.

I think it's a kingfisher. Luckily the tail is short.

Some are larger, some smaller, yellow-, orange-, or brown-billed, but all with an intense stare, especially when they spot prey.

It might be the Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris)

Bird Biology

There are approximately 10,000 bird species in the world, and learning about different bird families is the perfect way to sharpen identification skills, study similar birds and better appreciate avian diversity. The bird families below are organized by related characteristics to help you quickly identify and learn about the birds you see in your backyard, place of business or other location where bird control can help

Bill: Black elongated triangle

Size: 22-45 inches long with 75-inch wingspan, thick oval body and long neck

Colors: Brown, gray, white and black

Markings: Black head and neck with a thick white chin strap stretching from cheek to cheek, pale or white breast and sides with buff or brown wings and back, lighter on underside. Male and female birds look alike.

Foods: Insects, seeds, aquatic plants, grass, cracked corn, berries, food scraps

Habitat and Migration: Canada geese are the most common and widespread goose species in North America, with strong populations throughout the United States and Canada in wetlands, along waterways and in rural areas where marshes and lakes are present. These birds are year-round residents from Pennsylvania and New York to North Carolina and west to Nevada and Washington. Southern populations and extreme northern populations are migratory, traveling in a recognizable V-formation seasonally.

Vocalizations: These geese have a loud “honk-honk” call that can seem raucous when many birds call at once. Smaller variations found in northern populations also have a distinctive cackling call. Hissing is a common threat response.

Behavior: Canada geese are very social birds that travel in medium to large flocks and are easily adaptable to human habitation such as man-made lakes and waterways. These large birds can also be aggressive to intruders, whether birds or humans, and may hiss or charge if they feel threatened. Geese that live in close contact with humans may become docile and can beg for handouts, particularly near lakeside picnic areas, and they may be willing to take scraps from the hand.

Reproduction: These geese mate for life in a strong, monogamous partnership. Pairs will produce one brood per year of 5-10 eggs that must be incubated for 22-30 days before hatching. Both parents will incubate the eggs and care for the young. Fledglings leave the nest in 1-2 days and are taught how to find food by both parents. After 40-55 days young birds reach their adult size, but they will remain together as a family group until the next breeding season.

Attracting Canada Geese: Canada geese are likely to appear in any location with sufficient wetlands or waterways, and during migrating periods they are known to rest in agricultural fields or along drainage ditches. They are not common in backyards without large water features. If waterways are nearby, birders can offer cracked corn and bread scraps on the ground for visiting geese.

Bill: Slightly hooked, white or cream color

Size: 28-32 inches long with 70-inch wingspan, long neck

Colors: Black, gray, white, red, pink, brown

Markings: Male and female birds are similar with overall brown-black plumage. Some gray or white may show on the wings of perched birds but is much more prominent in the bi-colored pattern seen in flight with a dark leading edge and white or gray trailing edge and fingertips. The head is bare and red with white or greenish warts below and in front of the eye. The legs are pale red or pink.

Foods: Carrion

Habitat and Migration: Turkey vultures are fairly common and widespread throughout all types of habitats in the United States and the southern edge of Canada in the summer. Populations in the northern and mountain states as well as the Great Plains migrate seasonally, while turkey vultures in the Southeast and along the Pacific Coast may remain all year. These birds are year-round residents throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America.

Vocalizations: Turkey vultures are primarily silent birds, though they do have a rough hiss they may use when threatened or in distress. This hiss can also be heard from flocks around food or when roosting. Other calls, though rarely heard, include guttural growling and grunts.

Behavior: These birds with their long, broad wings are majestic fliers and can soar for hours searching for food. Their flight pattern is easily recognized by the wings held in a slight V shape and rocking back and forth as they scan for a meal. Turkey vultures have extraordinary sight and are one of the few birds to have a highly developed sense of smell, which is useful when locating food. Flocks of turkey vultures can often be found at carcasses and they will also roost in flocks at night. When not soaring or feeding, these birds often spread their wings to sun.

Reproduction: These are monogamous birds and a mated pair will produce one brood of 1-3 eggs annually. Both parents incubate the young birds for 38-40 days, and they will feed the young birds via regurgitation for 65-85 days until the juveniles are ready to leave the nest.

Attracting Turkey Vultures: These are not backyard birds but may be found near human habitation anywhere dead animals can be found. Road kill is a common food source though risky, as many birds are hit by cars each year. Turkey vultures will also feed on stillborn livestock and afterbirth if it is left available.

Bill: Thick, yellow, black subterminal band

Size: 18 inches long with 48-inch wingspan

Colors: White, gray, yellow, black, red, brown

Markings: Birds take three years to reach adult plumage juvenile birds are mottled brown, gray and white with a pinkish bill. Adults have a white body with pale to medium gray wings and back. Legs and feet are yellow or greenish-yellow, and yellow eyes are surrounded by a thin red orbital ring that can be hard to see. Wing tips are black with white spots. Winter plumage is similar but with brown spots on the head and nape of the neck.

Foods: Insects, fish, grain, rodents, garbage, carrion

Habitat and Migration: Ring-billed gulls are common summer birds in the northern United States and southern central Canada, and they typically migrate to the southeastern, central and all coastal regions of the United States as well as throughout Mexico in the winter. Year-round populations can be found near the Great Lakes and in Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington. These birds are adaptable to nearly any habitat that features large bodies of water, and they are also commonly found in parking lots and urban areas where they feed on refuse.

Vocalizations: The ring-billed gull’s shrill, raspy “oooow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow” call is its most familiar, but a laughing “ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” cackle is also common. These birds can be very vocal and raucous in large flocks.

Behavior: Ring-billed gulls are very active scavengers that frequently congregate in large flocks that may be mixed with other types of gulls. They will forage while wading, walking or swimming, and can become aggressive at picnic areas and other locations where food scraps are common.

Reproduction: These are typically monogamous birds that tend to nest in large colonies. Both parents will incubate the nest of 2-4 eggs for 22-28 days, and will feed the fledgling birds for 35 days until they are able to forage on their own. Mated birds raise one brood per year.

Attracting Ring-Billed Gulls: No species of gulls are common backyard birds, but birders who live near large bodies of water may attract ring-billed gulls with mealworms or kitchen scraps.

Bill: Thick and conical, black in males and lighter in females

Size: 5-6 inches long with 9-inch wingspan, stocky body

Colors: Brown, black, white, buff, gray

Markings: Birds are dimorphic. Males have black chin and bib with white cheeks and rust colored cap and nape of neck, pale abdomen and black and brown streaking on back and wings. Males also have a single white wing bar. Females are plainer, with a buff eyebrow, brown and buff streaked wings and back and a lighter bill.

Foods: Seeds, grains, insects, fruit

Habitat and Migration: House sparrows were first introduced to North America in the 1850s and have become one of the most widespread birds in southern Canada, the continental United States, Mexico and Central America. They are highly adaptable to urban, suburban and agricultural habitats but are rarely found far from human habitation. Worldwide, these birds are also common throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East, including India, though their numbers are declining in much of the Old World. House sparrows do not generally migrate but may become nomadic when seeking food sources.

Vocalizations: House sparrows can be very vocal in large groups but are quieter when isolated. Their calls include a fluttery “cheep” and rapid chattering sounds.

Behavior: House sparrows congregate in large flocks to feed and roost, and bird colonies may be made up of several family flocks. They generally forage on the ground, hopping and scratching with their feet, or in trees and bushes while looking for insects. These birds may become aggressive toward other birds feeding nearby and are bold around humans. Being so used to humans has made house sparrows resourceful in finding unique food supplies. They have been seen inspecting car grills for insects, and will feed on farms searching for spilled seed and grain.

Reproduction: House sparrows are generally monogamous and will build bulky nests in roof crevices, nesting boxes and natural tree cavities, or they may chase other birds out of nests. The female will incubate a brood of 4-6 eggs for 14-18 days, then both parents will regurgitate food for the nestlings for 14-18 days until they leave the nest. Depending on the climate, pairs may raise 2-3 broods per year.

Attracting House Sparrows: For many backyard birders, the challenge is not attracting house sparrows, but rather keeping them away because they are so abundant and aggressive. House sparrows will easily come to either platform or hopper feeders offering mixed seed, sunflower seeds or cracked corn, and they frequently nest along the eaves of houses.

Bill: Long, pointed, yellow

Size: 8.5 inches long with 15-inch wingspan, stubby tail

Colors: Black, buff, iridescent, red

Markings: Sexes are identical with allover black plumage highlighted with an iridescent green and purple gloss on the head, back, nape, flanks and chest. Fresh fall plumage has buff tips to feathers giving the birds a heavily spotted look. Wings and the short tail are dark and edged with buff. Legs and feet are red. Winter plumage is duller overall.

Foods: Insects, seeds, fruit, grain

Habitat and Migration: The European starling's native habitat includes a year-round range in Western Europe and around the Caspian Sea that expands to Scandinavia and western Russia in the summer and the Iberian Peninsula, Middle East and northern Africa in the winter. These birds have been introduced in many regions worldwide, including South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In North America, European starlings are found year-round throughout the continental United States, northern Mexico and southern Canada, expanding further north during summers. Regardless of where the birds are found, they prefer open habitats such as plains, agricultural fields and open woodlands, and in urban areas they are frequently found in yards and parks.

Vocalizations: These are gregarious birds with a wide variety of loud, demanding calls. Typical calls include whistles, chatters, rattles, chips and trills, and they can also imitate numerous other bird species and non-bird sounds. Juvenile birds are especially loud when begging in the nest or shortly after fledging.

Behavior: European starlings are tenacious, energetic birds that can be aggressive when feeding or nesting. During the breeding season they are generally solitary or found in pairs, but in the fall and winter they will form large roosting flocks that may number up to 1 million birds. These large flocks can be primarily starlings or may be mixed with different blackbird species. While feeding, these birds forage on the open ground, prodding into short grass and soil with their bills to seek out insects and grain. They have been known to raid the caches of other birds and will readily steal from one another.

Reproduction: These are monogamous birds that aggressively claim nesting cavities from other species, including woodpeckers, chickadees and bluebirds. A mated pair will produce 2-3 broods of 5-8 eggs each during the breeding season. Both parents incubate the eggs for 12-14 days, and both parents will feed the altricial young for an additional 19-21 days after hatching. The juvenile birds will follow their parents for another 1-2 weeks begging and demanding food

Attracting European Starlings: These birds are easily attracted to backyard feeders with peanut butter, suet and bread scraps, and they will also visit platform and hopper feeders for seed and grain. Because these birds can bring large flocks with voracious appetites to a backyard, many birders prefer to discourage their visits. Using birdfeeders with cages to exclude larger birds and cleaning up seed spilled on the ground can minimize European starling intrusions.

Bill: Short and slightly curved with a white crop at the base

Size: Short and slightly curved with a white crop at the base

Colors: Blue gray, black, white, brown, iridescent

Markings: Pigeons have a wide range of color and marking variations due to escaped domestic birds and fancy stock breeding. Typical pigeons are a blue gray overall with an iridescent neck that reflects blue, green and purple. Birds may have thick black wing bars and most pigeons are light underneath the wings. Eyes and legs are orange or reddish. Additional color variations include white, brown, tan or mottled birds.

Foods: Grass, seeds, grains, berries, scraps, trash

Habitat and Migration: Rock pigeons are common throughout the continental United States, southern Canada, Mexico and urban areas throughout the world. These birds thrive in human habitats and are most populous in large cities but can also be found in suburban and rural locations. Pigeons do not migrate.

Vocalizations: Rock pigeons can seem very vocal in large flocks. The typical call is a rapidly undulating “croooo-croooo” sound.

Behavior: Because pigeons are so used to humans, they often seem semi-tame and will readily approach passersby for food. Large flocks of pigeons are constantly foraging or birds will roost in close contact with one another. Pigeons are very agile fliers that can reach speeds up to 85 miles per hour with their tapered, falcon-like wings.

Reproduction: Rock pigeons can brood at any time of year and both the male and female parents will tend the eggs during the 17-19 day incubation period. The fledgling phase lasts 25-35 days and for the first few days both parents will feed the young birds with regurgitated crop milk. One brood consists of 1-2 eggs, and pigeons can raise five or more broods per year.

Attracting Pigeons: Rock pigeons are ground feeding birds that will be attracted to kitchen and bread scraps as well as cracked corn or seeds spilled on the ground. Because the birds are voracious and often travel in very large flocks, many backyard birders prefer to deter pigeons from visiting with specialized spikes on roosting areas and by choosing feeders that minimize spilled seed.


The most obvious characteristic that sets birds apart from other modern vertebrates is the presence of feathers, which are modified scales. While vertebrates like bats fly without feathers, birds rely on feathers and wings, along with other modifications of body structure and physiology, for flight.

Characteristics of Birds

Birds are endothermic, and because they fly, they require large amounts of energy, necessitating a high metabolic rate. Like mammals, which are also endothermic, birds have an insulating covering that keeps heat in the body: feathers. Specialized feathers called down feathers are especially insulating, trapping air in spaces between each feather to decrease the rate of heat loss. Certain parts of a bird’s body are covered in down feathers, and the base of other feathers have a downy portion, whereas newly hatched birds are covered in down.

Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, enabling the lift and thrust necessary to become airborne. The feathers on a wing are flexible, so the collective feathers move and separate as air moves through them, reducing the drag on the wing. Flight feathers are asymmetrical, which affects airflow over them and provides some of the lifting and thrusting force required for flight ([link]). Two types of flight feathers are found on the wings, primary feathers and secondary feathers. Primary feathers are located at the tip of the wing and provide thrust. Secondary feathers are located closer to the body, attach to the forearm portion of the wing and provide lift. Contour feathers are the feathers found on the body, and they help reduce drag produced by wind resistance during flight. They create a smooth, aerodynamic surface so that air moves smoothly over the bird’s body, allowing for efficient flight.

Flapping of the entire wing occurs primarily through the actions of the chest muscles, the pectoralis and the supracoracoideus. These muscles are highly developed in birds and account for a higher percentage of body mass than in most mammals. These attach to a blade-shaped keel, like that of a boat, located on the sternum. The sternum of birds is larger than that of other vertebrates, which accommodates the large muscles required to generate enough upward force to generate lift with the flapping of the wings. Another skeletal modification found in most birds is the fusion of the two clavicles (collarbones), forming the furcula or wishbone. The furcula is flexible enough to bend and provide support to the shoulder girdle during flapping.

An important requirement of flight is a low body weight. As body weight increases, the muscle output required for flying increases. The largest living bird is the ostrich, and while it is much smaller than the largest mammals, it is flightless. For birds that do fly, reduction in body weight makes flight easier. Several modifications are found in birds to reduce body weight, including pneumatization of bones. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow, rather than filled with tissue ([link]). They contain air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs, and they have struts of bone to provide structural reinforcement. Pneumatic bones are not found in all birds, and they are more extensive in large birds than in small birds. Not all bones of the skeleton are pneumatic, although the skulls of almost all birds are.

Other modifications that reduce weight include the lack of a urinary bladder. Birds possess a cloaca, a structure that allows water to be reabsorbed from waste back into the bloodstream. Uric acid is not expelled as a liquid but is concentrated into urate salts, which are expelled along with fecal matter. In this way, water is not held in the urinary bladder, which would increase body weight. Most bird species only possess one ovary rather than two, further reducing body mass.

The air sacs that extend into bones to form pneumatic bones also join with the lungs and function in respiration. Unlike mammalian lungs in which air flows in two directions, as it is breathed in and out, airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction ([link]). Air sacs allow for this unidirectional airflow, which also creates a cross-current exchange system with the blood. In a cross-current or counter-current system, the air flows in one direction and the blood flows in the opposite direction, creating a very efficient means of gas exchange.

Evolution of Birds

The evolutionary history of birds is still somewhat unclear. Due to the fragility of bird bones, they do not fossilize as well as other vertebrates. Birds are diapsids, meaning they have two fenestrations or openings in their skulls. Birds belong to a group of diapsids called the archosaurs, which also includes crocodiles and dinosaurs. It is commonly accepted that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs (including birds) are further subdivided into two groups, the Saurischia (“lizard like”) and the Ornithischia (“bird like”). Despite the names of these groups, it was not the bird-like dinosaurs that gave rise to modern birds. Rather, Saurischia diverged into two groups: One included the long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs, such as Apatosaurus. The second group, bipedal predators called theropods, includes birds. This course of evolution is suggested by similarities between theropod fossils and birds, specifically in the structure of the hip and wrist bones, as well as the presence of the wishbone, formed by the fusing of the clavicles.

One important fossil of an animal intermediate to dinosaurs and birds is Archaeopteryx, which is from the Jurassic period ([link]). Archaeopteryx is important in establishing the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, because it is an intermediate fossil, meaning it has characteristics of both dinosaurs and birds. Some scientists propose classifying it as a bird, but others prefer to classify it as a dinosaur. The fossilized skeleton of Archaeopteryx looks like that of a dinosaur, and it had teeth whereas birds do not, but it also had feathers modified for flight, a trait associated only with birds among modern animals. Fossils of older feathered dinosaurs exist, but the feathers do not have the characteristics of flight feathers.

It is still unclear exactly how flight evolved in birds. Two main theories exist, the arboreal (“tree”) hypothesis and the terrestrial (“land”) hypothesis. The arboreal hypothesis posits that tree-dwelling precursors to modern birds jumped from branch to branch using their feathers for gliding before becoming fully capable of flapping flight. In contrast to this, the terrestrial hypothesis holds that running was the stimulus for flight, as wings could be used to improve running and then became used for flapping flight. Like the question of how flight evolved, the question of how endothermy evolved in birds still is unanswered. Feathers provide insulation, but this is only beneficial if body heat is being produced internally. Similarly, internal heat production is only viable if insulation is present to retain that heat. It has been suggested that one or the other—feathers or endothermy—evolved in response to some other selective pressure.

During the Cretaceous period, a group known as the Enantiornithes was the dominant bird type ([link]). Enantiornithes means “opposite birds,” which refers to the fact that certain bones of the feet are joined differently than the way the bones are joined in modern birds. These birds formed an evolutionary line separate from modern birds, and they did not survive past the Cretaceous. Along with the Enantiornithes, Ornithurae birds (the evolutionary line that includes modern birds) were also present in the Cretaceous. After the extinction of Enantiornithes, modern birds became the dominant bird, with a large radiation occurring during the Cenozoic Era. Referred to as Neornithes (“new birds”), modern birds are now classified into two groups, the Paleognathae (“old jaw”) or ratites, a group of flightless birds including ostriches, emus, rheas, and kiwis, and the Neognathae (“new jaw”), which includes all other birds.

Veterinarian Veterinarians treat diseases, disorders, and injuries in animals, primarily vertebrates. They treat pets, livestock, and animals in zoos and laboratories. Veterinarians usually treat dogs and cats, but also treat birds, reptiles, rabbits, and other animals that are kept as pets. Veterinarians that work with farms and ranches treat pigs, goats, cows, sheep, and horses.

Veterinarians are required to complete a degree in veterinary medicine, which includes taking courses in animal physiology, anatomy, microbiology, and pathology, among many other courses. The physiology and biochemistry of different vertebrate species differ greatly.

Veterinarians are also trained to perform surgery on many different vertebrate species, which requires an understanding of the vastly different anatomies of various species. For example, the stomach of ruminants like cows has four compartments versus one compartment for non-ruminants. Birds also have unique anatomical adaptations that allow for flight.

Some veterinarians conduct research in academic settings, broadening our knowledge of animals and medical science. One area of research involves understanding the transmission of animal diseases to humans, called zoonotic diseases. For example, one area of great concern is the transmission of the avian flu virus to humans. One type of avian flu virus, H5N1, is a highly pathogenic strain that has been spreading in birds in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Although the virus does not cross over easily to humans, there have been cases of bird-to-human transmission. More research is needed to understand how this virus can cross the species barrier and how its spread can be prevented.

Section Summary

Birds are endothermic, meaning they produce their own body heat and regulate their internal temperature independently of the external temperature. Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, providing lift with secondary feathers and thrust with primary feathers. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow rather than filled with tissue, containing air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs. Airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction, creating a cross-current exchange with the blood. Birds are diapsids and belong to a group called the archosaurs. Birds are thought to have evolved from theropod dinosaurs. The oldest known fossil of a bird is that of Archaeopteryx, which is from the Jurassic period. Modern birds are now classified into two groups, Paleognathae and Neognathae.

Bird Adaptations

Did you ever wonder why there are so many types of bird beaks (scientists call them bills)? The most important function of a bird bill is feeding, and it is shaped according to what a bird eats. You can use the type of bill as one of the characteristics to identify birds. Here are some common bill shapes and the food they are especially adapted to eat:

Cracker Seed eaters like sparrows and cardinals have short, thick conical bills for cracking seed.
Shredder Birds of prey like hawks and owls have sharp, curved bills for tearing meat.
Chisel Woodpeckers have bills that are long and chisel-like for boring into wood to eat insects.
Probe Hummingbird bills are long and slender for probing flowers for nectar.
Strainer Some ducks have long, flat bills that strain small plants and animals from the water.
Spear Birds like herons and kingfishers have spear-like bills adapted for fishing.
Tweezer Insect eaters like warblers have thin, pointed bills.
Swiss Army Knife Crows have a multi-purpose bill that allows them to eat fruit, seeds, insects, fish, and other animals.

Another characteristic that can be used to learn more about birds is feet shapes! The shape of the feet reflects the habitat that the bird will be found in and the type of food it might eat. Here are some common feet shapes and the environment they are especially adapted to live in:

Interesting Insights from the Booby Bird!

Boobies are birds that have adapted to foraging out at sea and living in large groups. As such, many adaptations exist that have enabled them to do so. These adaptations, and other traits, provide examples of some exciting concepts in biology.

Feeding Adaptations

As seabirds, boobies spend most of their time out at sea and have become experts at foraging for fish in the ocean. Boobies are known for being exceptional divers. They hunt using surprise plunge attacks, diving directly into the ocean from great heights. Boobies are so good at diving that they can dive from as high at 100m above the water and dive 15m below the surface. There are several unique adaptations that these birds have that make this possible.

The first thing that you notice about a booby is that it is very streamlined. It has long, narrow wings and a slender body. When the bird spots its prey, they fold the wings over their body and dive headfirst into the water in a swift vertical drop.

Secondly, if you look at the booby’s bill, you will notice that there are no nostrils. This is because the nose is hidden under the upper mandible to prevent water from being forced into the bird’s trachea when it dives.

Boobies also have internal airbags and a third translucent eyelid. The sacs of air are found under the skin on the bird’s face and chest and provide a cushion that protects the internal organs upon impact with the water. The third eyelid – called the nictitating membrane – provides protection from impact by extending over the eye just before a booby hits the water.

Courtship Rituals

Like many seabirds, boobies are colonial birds. They nest together in groups which can sometimes be very large and crowded. They typically mate with the same partner for several years. Although they live in colonies, boobies can be very territorial. They will protect their area within the large breeding colony through the use of elaborate displays, including head nodding and jabbing.

Courtship also involves displays. The males will perform ritualized dances with many components, including whistling and raising their feet. The birds raise their feet alternately several times, followed by a gesture that ornithologists call sky pointing. Sky pointing involves the birds extending their wings horizontally and raising their heads before emitting a long whistle.

If the female is impressed by the male’s display then mating will follow. Booby birds typically lay between one and three eggs. The incubation period lasts between four and five weeks.

Behavioral Isolation

The elaborate courtship rituals described previously are not only used to attract a mate but are also an example of behavioral isolation.

Also known as ethological isolation, behavioral isolation occurs when two populations are capable of interbreeding but don’t because of differences in their courtship rituals. Courtship rituals involve various signals including audio signals such as breeding calls, visual cues such as mating dances, and olfactory signals such as pheromones. Differences between these signals are what set the species apart.

These differences in their elaborate courtship rituals isolate them from other, closely related species. Lets us consider how this relates to the booby bird. The six species of booby bird overlap and several species can be found sharing the same habitat. The differences in their mating rituals help them to find the correct mating partner and prevent them from mating outside of their species.

By preventing interbreeding, behavioral isolation ensures that the bird does not waste effort in searching, courting, and mating with a partner that will not produce fertile offspring. Producing a fertile offspring is necessary for the continuation of a species, and so behavioral isolation is a fundamental biological mechanism.

Birds on Campus

Southern California is an area rich in diversity. It has a diverse array of habitat communities, including deserts, mountains, woodlands, riparian forests, chaparral and sage scrub, marshes, lakes and rivers, and the ocean. These communities, combined with the relatively mild climate, make southern California home to a wide variety and abundance of plants and animals, including birds (and of course people). California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) is located on the coastal slope of southern California at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. The campus itself is well-landscaped with lawns and trees that are attractive to birds that have adapted to human habitation, while the areas immediately surrounding campus harbor interior coastal sage scrub and chaparral that provide refuge to many of our native species.

The following list represents all the bird species that I have seen on campus since I started birding the area in 2002. As of September 2016, I have recorded 173 species on or immediately adjacent to the CSUSB campus (see map). The main list below lists each bird's common name and the likelihood of seeing it on campus. Each common name provides a link to a web page with more detailed information on each species, including a photograph, a more detailed explanation of its status on campus and in the general area, identification tips, and links to more information. High counts and average counts are also included for regularly occurring species to provide readers with an idea of their abundance on campus. The High Count reflects the maximum number of indivduals seen in a single day, while the Average Count gives an estimate of the number of individuals one might expect to see on a typical day. You can also visit the CSU San Bernardino eBird hotspot page, which provides links to bar charts on seasonal distribution, checklists, and recent sightings.

In the main list below, an asterisk (*) indicates that the species is known to have bred or attempted to nest on campus. A dagger (†) indicates that the species probably or potentially breeds on campus but nesting evidence has not been recorded. The following definitions should be used when reading the bird list:

Bird identification - Biology

M16 Recap blog post at Sahm-I-Am
Quizlet Vocabulary Game, M16

Not my favorite post of the year -- seems a little dull. (sorry!) But there's just not a lot of videos to be found without evolution in them! And very few that are really informative that have anything to do w/ this module.
Also, it's a pretty basic module I think. The second half of Biology is definitely easier than the first! Yay! =D

(1) p. 495-498a , Class Reptilia
Reptiles and Amphibians, Part 1
Reptiles are ectothermic because they are cold-blooded. They must warm themselves from the outside (by the sun, usually). Ecto- means outer, thermic means heat.

(2) p. 499 , Order Rhynchocephalia
A tuatara with its "third eye" atop its head.

(3) p. 499c-503, Order Squamata
Squamates - lizards and snakes

(4) p. 503-504a , Order Testudines
Learn the differences between turtles and tortoises.

(5) p. 504 , Order Crocodilia
► Crocodiles vs. Alligators. What is the difference?
Crocodiles: V-shaped snout, thinner than an alligators, most/all teeth show when mouth is closed.

►More about alligators at Answers in Genesis

(6) p. 505-507 , Dinosaurs

► More about dinosaurs at Answers in Genesis (FF up to 1:45)

(7) p. 507-509 , Class Aves (AY-vees)
Think of aviation to help you remember how to pronounce aves. =)
How wings work:

►Usually in the spring at Norfolk Botanical Gardens, there is a live web feed of Eagles and Eaglets. Watch a couple of videos and read more at Sahm-I-Am.
►Not for the faint of heart -- Atlas of Avian diseases study bird embryos.

Experiment 16.1, Bird Embryology

(8) p. 520-526 , Class Mammalia

"What separates us from the rest of the mammals. "
We are made in the image of God! =)

What Makes a Good Indicator?

When it comes to usefulness as an indicator, all species are not created equal and a few criteria are required for a species to be valuable in this regard. Firstly, it should be sensitive to changes in the environment in order to serve as an early warning. 1 A species that is extraordinarily resilient and not dramatically impacted by environmental changes would offer little information about what is happening in the environment. Additionally, the species needs to respond to changes in a predictable manner. If it responds erratically to change, this would make it hard to interpret the underlying environmental causes of the changes that are observed. Lastly, it should be easy to compile and interpret data on the species to inform policy decisions. Species that are very rare would make poor indicator species because it would be hard to find and study enough of them to draw any meaningful conclusions. Similarly, it would be difficult to gather data on species that have very cryptic life histories or that are in general poorly understood, making them less than ideal candidates for indicator species. With this criteria established, we can explore the different kinds of ecosystem changes that birds can tell us about.


The use of nucleotide sequence differences in a single gene to investigate evolutionary relationships was first widely applied by Carl Woese (Woese and Fox 1977). He recognized that sequence differences in a conserved gene, ribosomal RNA, could be used to infer phylogenetic relationships. Sequence comparisons of rRNA from many different organisms led initially to recognition of the Archaea, and subsequently to a redrawing of the tree of life. More recently, the polymerase chain reaction has allowed sequence diversity in any gene to be examined. Genes that evolve slowly, like rRNA, often do not differ among closely related organisms, but they are indispensable in recovering ancient relationships, providing insights as far back as the origin of cellular life (Woese 2000). On the other hand, genes that evolve rapidly may overwrite the traces of ancient affinities, but regularly reveal divergences between closely related species.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been widely employed in phylogenetic studies of animals because it evolves much more rapidly than nuclear DNA, resulting in the accumulation of differences between closely related species (Brown et al. 1979 Moore 1995 Mindell et al. 1997). In fact, the rapid pace of sequence change in mtDNA results in differences between populations that have only been separated for brief periods of time. John Avise was the first to recognize that sequence divergences in mtDNA provide a record of evolutionary history within species, thereby linking population genetics and systematics and establishing the field of phylogeography (Avise et al. 1987). Avise and others also found that sister species usually show pronounced mtDNA divergences, and more generally that “biotic entities registered in mtDNA genealogies…and traditional taxonomic assignments tend to converge” (Avise and Walker 1999). Although many species show phylogeographic subdivisions, these usually coalesce into single lineages “at distances much shorter than the internodal branch lengths of the species tree” (Moore 1995). In other words, sequence divergences are much larger among species than within species, and thus mtDNA genealogies generally capture the biological discontinuities recognized by taxonomists as species. Taking advantage of this fact, taxonomic revisions at the species level now regularly include analysis of mtDNA divergences. For example, many newly recognized species of birds have been defined, in part, on the basis of divergences in their mtDNA (e.g., Avise and Zink 1988 Gill and Slikas 1992 Murray et al. 1994 AOU 1998 Banks et al. 2000, 2002, 2003).

The general concordance of mtDNA trees with species trees implies that, rather than analyzing DNA from morphologically identified specimens, it could be used the other way around, namely to identify specimens by analyzing their DNA. Past applications of DNA-based species identification range from reconstructing food webs by identifying fragments in stomachs (Symondson 2002) to recognizing products prepared from protected species (Palumbi and Cipriano 1998) and resolving complexes of mosquitoes that transmit malaria and dengue fever (Phuc et al. 2003). Despite such demonstrations, the lack of a lingua franca has limited the use of DNA as a general tool for species identifications.

If a short region of mtDNA that consistently differentiated species could be found and accepted as a standard, a library of sequences linked to vouchered specimens would make this sequence an identifier for species, a “DNA barcode” (Hebert et al. 2003a). Recent work suggests that a 648-bp region of the mitochondrial gene, cytochrome c oxidase I (COI), might serve as a DNA barcode for the identification of animal species. This gene region is easily recovered and it provides good resolution, as evidenced by the fact that deep sequence divergences were the rule between 13,000 closely related pairs of animal species (Hebert et al. 2003b). The present study extends these earlier investigations by testing the correspondence between species boundaries signaled by COI barcodes and those established by prior taxonomic work. Such tests require the analysis of groups that have been studied intensively enough to create a firm system of binomials birds satisfy this requirement. Although GenBank holds many bird sequences, these derive from varied gene regions while a test of species identification requires comparisons of sequences from a standard gene region across species. Accordingly, the barcode region of COI was sequenced in 260 of the 667 bird species that breed in North America (AOU 1998).

House Sparrow Biology

Note: the primary focus of this webpage is information relevant to House Sparrow population control.

Species : Worldwide, there are 12 recognized subspecies of the of (English) House Sparrow, Passer domesticus or HOSP, with the U.S. bird descendant from Passer domesticus domesticus. Many sources say that the House Sparrow is not actually a sparrow, but is a weaver finch. It is now classified as an Old World sparrow bird. (Remember - just because a bird has "sparrow" in its name doesn't mean it's a House Sparrow!) More.

Identification : See HOSP description photos of adults, nests, eggs and young and other brown birds sometimes confused with HOSP. They hop when on the ground.

Song : It's "song" is a single cheep (up to 4 types). Males cheep continuously, 60-100 times/hour, with unmated males calling more often. Females do not cheep much (4 calls/hour) unless they are trying to attract a mate. They tend to sing less during cold or rainy weather and short winter days. Listen to song and see video clip.

Distribution : House Sparrows are one of the most abundant birds on the North American continent, and are found throughout the populated world. They are common in agricultural, suburban, and urban areas. The only areas they tend to avoid are woodlands, forests, large grasslands, and deserts, and frozen wastelands. (In North America, they normally are not found farther north than about Fort Nelson, British Columbia.) Other than that, a sparse population of House Sparrows generally indicates a sparse population of humans, as they are synanthropic . HOSP have no established migratory pattern - they are year-round residents. Supposedly 90% of adults stay within a 1.25 mile radius during nesting season. Flocks of juveniles and nonbreeding adults will move 4 to 5 miles from nesting sites to seasonal feeding areas.

Diet : Mostly grains, wild and domestic weed seeds insects and other arthropods during breeding season. Forages on the ground for seeds. May pierce flowers to get at nectar. 60% livestock feed in fields, as waste feed, or from animal dung (wheat, oats, cracked corn, sorghum) 18% cereals (grains from field or storage) 17% weed seeds (major species: ragweed, crabgrass, bristlegrass, knotweed) and 4% insects. Urban birds eat mostly birdseed (including millet, milo, and sunflower) and food waste (bread, restaurant waste, etc.). Nestlings diet is about 68% insects, and 30% livestock feed on average. For young 1 - 3 days old, invertebrates make up 90% of diet decreasing to 49% by 7 days. Insects fed include what is abundant, including alfalfa weevils, bark beetle larvae, periodic cicadas, Dung beetles, and Melanoplus grasshoppers. BBS Map

Mating and Nesting Behavior : Males aggressively defend their chosen nest site, spending nearly 60% of their perching time at nestboxes during reproduction. They will attack adults of other species, peck eggs and kill or remove nestlings from nestboxes. Occasionally male HOSP attack other male HOSP and female HOSP attack other females. Females usurping other HOSP nests regularly commit infanticide.

HOSP are said to be monogamous, but appear to be more closely bonded to a nest site than a mate (i.e., if a mate is lost, they remain at the nest site trying to attract another female.) In one study (Sappington 1977), mated pairs remained faithful to each other only for 60.5% of cases during a single breeding season (Sappington 1977) and there was no evidence that pairs remained together for 2 consecutive breeding seasons. 39.5%of males had more than one mate during a single season. Sappington also found that 86% of nest sites were retained by a male for the entire breeding season versus 45% by the female. In subsequent breeding seasons, only 10% of the males returned to their previous nest site.

Females prefer males with a larger bib size males with larger bibs are more active sexually and may have higher levels of testosterone.

Sex ratios of male to female HOSPs in breeding areas are probably close to 1:1 (Summers-Smith 1963, Wil 1973, North 1973, Sappington 1977.)

Nestboxes : HOSP can and will use any nestbox suitable for bluebirds. They do not need nestboxes, and will nest just about anywhere. Females prefer hole-type nests over tree nests, but there is no imprinting on the parental nest site. Frank Navratil determined that for entrances:

    1 1/4" diameter allows HOSP entry.
    1 1/8" diameter usually stops entry.
    1 1/2" x 1" slot allows entry.
    1 1/2" x 7/8" stops entry.
    1" x 1 1/2" slot allows entry.
    7/8" x 1 1/2" slot stops entry.

However, smaller birds may be able to enter smaller holes. Size depends on latitude and winter temperature, with smallest birds along the Louisiana and s. California coasts and in Mexico, and largest birds in Canada and the Rocky Mountain and plains region.

Monitoring : Nestlings may prematurely fledge 10 days after hatching. The nest may contain fleas, blow fly and/or mites ( Pellonyssus reedi .)

Nesting Timetable (typical):

  • Timing : Nesting activity is most intense from February through May. The first brood per season March through April subsequent broods and re-nests continue through August. Potential nest sites may be selected in fall (with the male displaying at a nest site) and used as winter roosts.
  • Nest site selection: The nest site is selected by the male. HOSP use natural cavities created by other birds, nestboxes, or various other sites. While they prefer to nest in cavities such as a nestbox, they will nest in protected locations such as rafters, gutters, roofs (including clay tiles), ledges, eaves, soffits and attic vents, dryer vents, holes in wood siding, behind shake siding, dense vines on buildings, loading docks, roof supports, commercial signs, behind or above pipes and ductwork on buildings, wall voids, evergreens and shrubs. May reuse nests of Bank, Barn or Cliff swallows, Eastern Phoebes, American Robins, and Northern Orioles, and even alongside osprey nests, often adding nesting material.) Nests are often in 8-30 feet off the ground, which may afford additional predator protection.
  • Nest construction: Both the male and female quickly construct the nest, which is a loose jumble of odds and ends, including coarse grass (with seed heads), cloth, feathers, twigs and sometimes litter. Mid-summer nests sometimes contain bits of green vegetation (mustards or mints.) The nest is tall, and may have a tunnel like entrance particularly when built outside of a nestbox. In a nestbox, it may have more of a cup shape, and may be built up to cover sides of box. Nests in trees are usually globular structures with a side entrance, a squashed ball 30 - 40 cm diameter. In trees, forked or dense branching provide an anchoring platform for nests. Neighboring nests may share walls. See photos.
  • Egg laying: In breeding season, may begin nest building just a few days before first egg. One egg is laid each day, 1-8, average 4 to 5. Eggs are cream, white, gray or greenish tint, with irregular fine brown speckles, shell is smooth with slight gloss. See photos. The background color can vary, the color of the spots can vary, the thickness of spotting can vary, and the size can vary. The last laid egg has less dense markings. Eggs with male embryos are slightly larger.
  • Incubation: Usually begins with the penultimate (next-to-last) egg of a clutch, and is primarily by the female, lasting 10-13 days. The male sits on eggs from 16% of time early in incubation to 46% of time by days 9&ndash12 the female from 60% at start to 46% at end. Male sessions average 9 minutes, females 11 minutes. Sappington recorded the male relieving the female 5 or 6 times a day for 20 minutes at a time, but he does not develop a brood patch, so he questioned whether this is truly "incubation." He found only the female sat on the eggs during the night. (Sappington 1977)
  • Hatching: Eggs hatch 11 days after the last egg was laid, typically in one day but may cover about a 1 to 3 day period. (See photo of newborn HOSP.) Hatching success may range from about 61 to 85%. (Mitchell et al. 1973 to Seel 1968.)
  • Development: Hatchlings are red, fading to pink or light gray after 6 - 10 hours. The mouth is red, and the rictal flange is yellow. At 6 days, feather sheaths on ventral and dorsal tracts and wing coverts split. Feathers begin to fan at 7&ndash8 days. The female primarily broods nestlings, with time decreasing as they grow older. Both parents feed (15-20 visits/hour) young by regurgitation males feed about 40% of the time.
  • Fledging: usually 14 -17 days after hatching. Young are capable of more or less sustained flight upon fledging. Prior to fledging, nestlings may become very quiet, lying crouched in the nest. Nests with fewer birds may fledge earlier (Kendeigh 1952) but another study did not find this (Moreau & Moreau 1940.) On the day of fledging, parents rarely feed the young, and fledging typically occurs in early morning over 1 to 3 days. Young stay with adult male for a few days, then gather with other young into foraging and roosting flocks. They are independent (feeding themselves) 7&ndash10 days after leaving the nest.
  • Dispersal: Birds generally remain near breeding colonies. Shortly after fledging, perhaps 50-75% of juveniles may wander 0.6-1.2 miles (1-2 km) (some sources 3.8-5 miles [6 to 8 km] to new feeding areas. Breeding individuals generally stay within this same range. Densities may be as high as 3108-3367 birds/mi 2 (1,200 - 1,300 individuals/km 2 ) around dwellings associated with livestock average of 518/mi 2 (200/km 2 ) in rural areas (Dyer et al. 1977).
  • Number of broods: House Sparrows may raise 2-4 (often 3) clutches each breeding season. (I thought I read a maximum of 5 somewhere.) Nests may be reused, with a re-nest or subsequent brood typically beginning 8 daysafter nest failure or after young leave nest (up to 10-49 days, usually 3-17). Birds experiencing failures may initiate clutches up to eight times in a nest during a single season. Some nests are reused 6 times. Cases have been seen where the eggs of the next clutch were laid while the young were still in the nest (Lowther, Bird Banding, 1979).
  • Post-nesting : Birds tend to use communal roosts in the fall and winter months, versus their nest sites (Sappington 1977).
  • Longevity : The record for a wild bird was 13 years and 4 month (Klimkiewicz and Futacher 1987). First-year survival of young is 20% annual survival for adults is 57%.

Diseases and Body Parasites : (Also see other problems associated with HOSP) Viruses: colds and canary pox. West Nile Virus and Western Equine Enchephalitis. Bacteria: Bacillus anthracis , Mycobacterium , Salmonella pullorum , Treponema anserinum , equine encephalitis. Fungi: Aspergillus fumigatus , sarcosporidium. Protozoans: coccidia (very common), Lankesterella ( Atoxoplasma ) garnhami . Trematodes: Collyriculum faba , Prosthogonimus ovatus . Nematodes: Capillaria exile , Cheilospirura skrjabini , Microtetrameris inernis . Mites: Megostigmata sp., Ptyloryssus nudus , Proctophyllodes passerina , Dermoglyphus elongatus , Glycophagus sp., Dermanyssus gallinae (in nest), D. avium , Microlichus avium . Mallophaga, Amplycera: Menacanthus annulatus Ischnocera: Bruelia cyclothorax (= subtilis ), Philopterus fringillae , Degeeriella vulgata , Myrsidea quadrifasciata , Cuclotogaster heterographus . Fleas: Ceratophyllus gallinae , C. fringillae . Hippoboscid flies: Ornithomyia fringillina . blow flies? Protocalliphora sp. Ticks: Ixodes passericola , Argas reflexus , Haemaphysalis leporispalustris . Hatching failure sometimes due to microbial infections. (Source: Birds of North America Online summary.)

References and More Information :

  • Lowther, P.E. (2006). House Sparrow. ( Passer domesticus ). The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Retrieved from The Birds of North American Online database:
    • M. I. Dyer, J. Pinowski, B. Pinowska 1977. Population dynamics, pp. 53-105 in Granivorous birds in ecosystems (J. Pinowski and S. C. Kendeigh, Eds.). Internatl. Biol. Progr., Vol 12, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.
      (active and passive methods) - by E.A. Zimmerman (useful for ID - nest, fledglings, adult male and female) - also see Other Brown Birds Sometimes Confused with HOSP
  • Handouts - HOSP Advisory
      breeding HOSP
  • All solutions to HOSP control have drawbacks, but not controlling them at all has the greatest drawback.
    - Cherie Layton, The Bluebird Nut, 2006

    May all your blues be birds!

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