Birds are vertebrate, warm-blooded animals that walk, jump or stand on their hind limbs only, while their forelimbs have evolved into wings that, like many other unique anatomical features, allow them, in most cases, to fly, although not all of them fly. They have a body covered with feathers and, the birds sensu stricto, a horny beak without teeth. To reproduce, they lay eggs that incubate until they hatch.
They are aerial animals that are mainly characterized by being the only species to have feathers. A more elaborate definition would indicate that they are warm-blooded vertebrates more closely related to reptiles than to mammals and that they have a four-chambered heart (as do mammals), modified winged forelimbs (a trait shared with bats), a hard-shelled egg, and sharp vision, the main sense on which they rely for environmental information. Their sense of smell is not very developed and their hearing range is limited. Most birds are diurnal. More than 1,000 extinct species have been identified from fossil remains.
The birds emerged as flying, arboreal and warm-blooded creatures, with front legs adapted for flight and hind legs for perching. This basic plan has been modified so much in the course of evolution that in some ways it is difficult to recognize.
Among flying birds, the wandering albatross has the largest wingspan, up to 3.5 meters, and the trumpeter swan perhaps the heaviest weight, 17 kg. In larger flying birds, some of the bone is replaced by air cavities (pneumatic skeletons) because the maximum size achievable by flying birds is limited by the fact that wing area varies as the square of linear proportions, and weight or volume as the cube. During the Pleistocene (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) lived a bird called Teratornis incredibilis. Although similar to today’s condors, it had an estimated wingspan greater than about 5 meters and was by far the largest flying bird known.
The smallest living bird is generally recognized as the Cuban bee hummingbird, measuring 6.3 cm and weighing less than 3 grams. The minimum size is probably governed by another aspect of the surface-to-volume ratio: the relative increase, with decreasing size, in the surface through which heat can be lost. The small size of some hummingbirds may be facilitated by a decrease in heat loss as a result of their clumsiness at night.
When birds lose their power of flight, the limit of their maximum size increases, as can be seen in ostriches and other ratites such as emu, cassowary, and rhea. The ostrich is the largest living bird and can measure 2.75 meters and weigh 150 kg. Some recently extinct birds were even larger: New Zealand’s largest moas and Madagascar’s elephant birds may have reached over 3 meters.
The ability to fly has allowed for an almost unlimited diversification of birds, so that they are now found virtually everywhere on Earth, from occasional stragglers on the ice caps to complex communities in the rainforests.
In general, the number of species found breeding in a given area is directly proportional to the size of the area and the diversity of available habitats. The total number of birds is also related to factors such as the position of the area with respect to migration routes and the wintering grounds of species that nest outside the area.
Birds fly by flapping their wings, mainly by their tails. Compared to the parts of an airplane, a bird’s wing acts as a wing and propeller. The basal part of the wing provides most of the bearing surface, the wing tip most of the propulsive force. A bird’s wing has many adjustable characteristics: it can be shortened or lengthened by bending; the feathers of the tip can be extended or closed; the angle of the entire wing or its parts – on one side or both – can be altered. All these adjustments make the aerodynamics of a bird’s wing much more complicated than that of the plane; consequently, the flight of a bird is much more varied and adaptable.
The types of flight found in birds vary considerably, and different types of wings correlate with different types of flight. There are at least two main types of modifications found for gliding or flying. Albatrosses and some other seabirds have long, narrow wings and take advantage of winds over the oceans, while some vultures and hawks have wide wings with grooved tips that allow greater use of updrafts and winds deflected by hills.
The shape of a bird’s tail also seems to be related to flight. The forked tails of frigates and terns allow for rapid changes in direction, and the barn swallow uses its deeply forked tail to make the intricate patterns of its elegant flight. A goshawk that chases its prey through the forest uses its long tail to make quick turns. However, there is such diversity in bird tails that precise size and shape are probably not critically important.
The speed at which birds fly also varies greatly and, of course, each bird can vary its speed. Data on bird flight speed is difficult to evaluate. One of the complicating factors is that the speed of the bird relative to the ground may depend on the strength of the wind.
Some birds have completely lost the power of flight during the course of evolution. However, the close similarity in the basic structure of non-flying and flying birds indicates that they all had a common flying ancestor. The rudimentary wings and flightless state of penguins and ratites (ostriches and similar) are therefore a secondary and specialized condition. That flightlessness is a secondary condition becomes even more evident in other non-flying birds that belong to families in which most of their members are capable of flight.
Flight loss seems to occur more frequently on isolated islands where there are no mammalian predators. In New Zealand, where there are no native land mammals of any kind, there were many species of extinct flightless moas, and there are still kiwis, penguins and flightless rails, as well as a duck, an owl and several songbirds that are almost flightless. The ratites of South America (rhea), Africa (ostrich) and Australia (cassowary) present an apparent contradiction with this correlation of mammal-free island habitats with the flightlessness of the birds. However, another adaptation, their large size, has allowed these birds to escape from mammalian predators.
Birds are highly dependent on innate behavior, automatically responding to specific visual or auditory stimuli. Even much of their feeding and breeding behavior is stereotyped. Feather care is vital to keep the wings and tail in flight and the rest of the feathers in place, where they can act as insulation. Therefore, preening, greasing, wagging and stretching movements are well developed and used regularly.
Some movements, such as the simultaneous stretching of a wing, a leg and half of the tail (all on the same side) are widespread, if not universal, among birds. Stretching both wings upward, either bent or extended, is another common movement, as is shaking the entire body starting at the rear end. Other movements have evolved in relation to bathing, either in water or in dust. These comfort movements have often been ritualized as components of displays.
Many birds maintain a minimum distance between themselves and their neighbors, as can be seen in the spacing of a flock of swallows perched on a wire. In the breeding season, most species maintain territories, defending areas ranging from the immediate vicinity of the nest to extensive areas where the pair not only nest but also feed. The frequency of actual fighting is greatly reduced by ritualized threats and demonstrations of appeasement. The birds range from solitary (e.g., many birds of prey) to highly gregarious, such as the guanay cormorants of the Peruvian Current off the west coast of South America, which nest in huge colonies of hundreds of thousands and feed on large flocks of boobies and pelicans.
song”. It is a striking sound (not necessarily musical) that is used, especially at the beginning of the breeding season, to attract a mate, to warn of another bird of the same sex, or both. As such, it is often associated with the establishment and maintenance of territories.
Individual variations in the songs of many species are well known, and it is believed that some birds can recognize their partners and neighbors by this variation. Many other types of vocalizations are also known. Pairs or flocks can be held together by a series of soft location notes. Alarm notes alert other individuals to the presence of danger; in fact, the American Robin (and probably many other species) uses one note when it sees a hawk above its head and another when it sees a predator on the ground. Begging calls are important to encourage parents to feed their children. Other calls are associated with aggressive situations, courtship and mating. Non-vocal sounds are not uncommon. Some snipe and hummingbird calls have narrow tail feathers that produce loud sounds when the birds are flying, as do the narrow outer primaries of the American Woodcock. The elaborate courtship of grouse includes vocalizations, as well as taps on the feet and noises made with the wings. Beak clapping is a common part of stork courtship, and beak snaps are a common threat from owls.
Most birds build nests in which they lay their eggs. Nests vary widely: they may be a scratch in the sand, a deep burrow, a hole in a tree or rock, an open crown, a globular or replica mass with a side entrance tube, or an elaborately woven hanging structure.
The materials from which the nests are made also vary widely. Some nests are lined with small stones, and others are built with soil or mud with or without plant material. Sticks, leaves, algae, roots and other plant fibers are used alone or in combination. Some birds look for animal materials such as feathers, horsehair or snakeskin. Nest materials can be held together by weaving, sewing or felting the materials themselves or with mud or webs. Swifts use saliva to stick the nest materials together and to fix the nest to the support structure. In at least one species of swift, the whole nest is made of saliva and is the most precious ingredient of bird’s nest soup in the Orient.
All the birds incubate their eggs, except the megapods, which depend on the heat generated by decaying vegetation or other external sources, and the breeding parasites such as cuckoos and cowboys, which lay their eggs in the nests of other species. Murres and king and emperor penguins do not build any nests, but incubate with the egg resting on their feet.
The first birds were probably insectivorous, as were many modern ones, and the latter have developed many specializations in insect capture. Swifts, swallows, and nightjars have large spaces to catch insects on their wings; some woodpeckers can reach the worms that drill into wood, while others can catch ants by digging into anthills with their long, sticky tongues; flails dig into the ground with their beaks; vines and woodpeckers probe the cracks in the bark; and warblers collect insects from many types of vegetation.
Birds of prey (raptors and owls) have developed claws and pecks to feed on larger animals, and vultures have bare heads and pecks to feed on carrion. Herons have spear-like beaks and neck trigger mechanisms to catch fish, while kingfishers, terns and boobies dive into the water after similar prey. Some have long beaks to catch worms and others invertebrates. Of the many types of birds that feed on plant material, most use seeds, fruit or nectar, which have a high nutritional value; the leaves and buds are consumed by fewer species. While some types of birds feed entirely on one type of food, others may consume a wide range of foods, and many have seasonal changes in their diet.
The structures associated with flight, even if they are vestiges or specialized for terrestrial or aquatic locomotion, easily distinguish birds from other animals. While several skeletal and internal features are diagnostic of birds, feathers are unique and present in all birds. Also unique to birds is their sound producing organ, the syrinx. This avian analog to the larynx is more developed in songbirds. The syrinx is located where the trachea divides into the bronchial tubes. The sound is produced by the flow of air that vibrates the membranes formed by part of the trachea, the bronchi or both.
Like the scales of reptiles and those of birds’ feet, feathers are made of keratin, a fibrous protein also found in hair. Feathers vary considerably in structure and function. Contour feathers form most of the bird’s surface, making it more aerodynamic to fly and often waterproof. The basal portion can be soft and therefore act as insulation. The main feathers of the wing contour (remiges) and tail (rectrices) and their covers work in flight. The contour feathers grow in tracts (pteriaceae) separated by bare areas (apertures) and develop from skin follicles.
The typical contour feather consists of a conical central axis, the rachis, with paired branches (barbs) on each side. A non-branched basal section of the rachis is called the calamus, part of which is under the skin. The beards, in turn, have branches, the barbs. The chins on the distal side of each beard have hooks (hamuli) that hook the chins of the next beard. The barbs at the base of the flipper are often feathery, that is, they lack hamuli and remain free of each other. In many birds, each contour feather on the body (but rarely on the wings) is provided with a complex branch, the stern tree, or hind feather, that emerges at the base of the flipper. The back shaft has the appearance of a second, smaller feather, growing from the base of the first.
The feathers of the down have loose cloth barbs, which rise from the tip of a very short shaft. Their function is insulation, and they can be found in both pteriaceae and adult birds. They also constitute the first layer of feathers of most young birds. Phylum feathers are hairy feathers with a few soft barbs near the tip. They are associated with contour feathers and can be sensory or decorative in function. The gutless, bristle-like feathers occur around the mouth, eyes, and nostrils of birds. They are especially visible around the opening (corners of the mouth) of birds that catch insects in the air. Some bristles function as eyelashes on ground-dwelling birds, and the bristles above the nostrils can serve as filters.
If you are planning to add a new pet to the family, it is very important to give special consideration to the issue of time.
Living in an apartment makes some pets more attractive than others.
If you can’t or don’t want to take your pet outdoors to walk and play, a dog may not be the best choice.
If you have decided that a dog, cat or other furry animal is not the best for you, you may be interested in the idea of having an exotic bird as a pet.
There are many reasons to recommend birds as pets, but it is important to learn as much as you can about having one, before you take the plunge.
Also, as I have pointed out, birds are not cage decorations. Although, when necessary, the cage is a convenient confinement, it is not healthy for your bird to spend hour after hour unattended in a cage. Many bird owners, including me, only confine their pets in their cages at night.
Also, the waste of a bird is rarely confined in the cage, even when it is inside. The area under the cage will have bits and pieces of food, water, as well as bird droppings. So if your bird can throw things out of its cage and the floor is the surface underneath it, it will require daily cleaning. In my house, birds are the most disastrous family members I have ever lived with.
It’s important to keep in mind that interacting with your curious exotic bird, which is essentially how you train it, is not an activity you need to do once in a while and only when you feel like it. It is true that many birds are easy to train, but in fact, if they are not habitually given the opportunity to interact and learn new things, they will develop emotional problems and harmful behaviors. Also, it is important to understand that some birds may never learn to talk, no matter how much time and human attention they receive.
On the other hand, if you prefer to keep your pet in the cage most of the time, you are not meeting its socialization and stimulation needs. This can result in a very unhappy bird that becomes self-destructive.
Another consideration is the noise level. If you live in a departmental building or in close proximity to others, and your bird is prone to scream — which many large birds do — it will be as badly viewed by your neighbors as the owner of the dog who barks for hours. In fact, years ago, I had to pay extra so that my cockatoo could live in my apartment with me. The owner indicated that birds could be more destructive on the property than dogs or cats.
Contemplating who will care for your beloved bird after you are gone can be as difficult as knowing that your pet is destined to leave you long before you are ready to say goodbye. The decision about what kind of pet is your best option should also include consideration of what will be best for the pet.
If you are interested in acquiring an exotic bird as a pet, and are prepared to make a significant lifetime commitment, I highly recommend contacting the local animal shelter and/or exotic bird sanctuary in your area. The latter, in particular, are often filled with beautiful and wonderful abandoned and rescued birds in need of new and permanent homes.
When choosing a bird as a pet, it is necessary to evaluate what kind of care it will need in order to provide it with the ideal environment to grow up healthy and happy. First of all, we must clarify that there are many species of birds that in our country are prohibited as pets and with which many times they are trafficked. It is not superfluous to consult it, because the breeding of threatened birds in captivity is a crime that can lead to very high fines. For this reason, in our online bird store we recommend that you choose a serious establishment when buying a bird and that you never do so with a private individual unless they have an official record.
On the other hand, you should be very aware that having a pet is not a hobby, since they are not toys that we can throw away when we get bored. They are sensitive living beings that deserve to be loved and cared for by their owners. At present, there are more than 300 species perfectly adapted to life in the wild. That is why, before buying a particular bird, we must know what its needs are in order to guarantee its well-being, taking into account factors such as its size and the space we have available, its level of socialization and domestication, our experience in caring for birds and the life expectancy of the species. The latter is very important, since while a canary can last about 15 years, parrots can live up to 50 years. Also, you should know that there are birds that are very sociable and enjoy living in pairs, as is the case of the parakeet, agaporni, mandarin diamond or parrot.
So, if you are thinking of buying a bird to have at home, we bring you a list of which ones are more suitable and what are their needs so you can assess which one is the best for your lifestyle and you can take better care of it.
The agapornis are one of the preferred birds for lovers of domestic birds because they are very adorable. However, we must take into account that they are very sociable animals and that they are usually happier living in pairs, so it is advisable to have a male and a female. It is a very happy bird that tends to be in a good mood, which makes them sing often and also makes our day brighter. In addition, with the advantage that they do not require much care.
Along with agapornis, they are among the most preferred domestic birds. Their diet is based on vegetables and seeds and they always need to have something close by to sharpen their beaks, such as a cuttlefish bone. One of the biggest advantages is that they are very clean, so it is common to see them preening with their own saliva. However, it is also important that they have water to do so. In addition, you must control that the nails do not grow excessively.
Nymphs are animals that require a lot of love, but in return they are excellent companions. They let themselves be caressed, they look for you and they can even manage to attract your attention in a thousand ways. They’re also very smart, so it’s not hard to teach them to make different sounds.
Goldfinches are very energetic and beautiful birds. The biggest advantage is that they are not usually very rebellious birds, as they are used to living in houses. Besides, they are a very independent species so they do not require much care and are happy without us having to pay much attention to them. However, you should know that they sing a lot, so it can be good for some and a nuisance for others, something that you should appreciate before buying it.
Cockatoos are very restless birds that need a lot of interaction and a daily walk around the house. Otherwise, they get bored and very sad. Besides, they need a lot of space. So, if you are not going to be at home for long periods of time or go on frequent trips, it is better to discard them. The good thing is that they are very nice and we can teach them to make a lot of sounds, which will cheer up your home a lot.
Parrots are very used to living with people and learn very quickly. Besides, they do not need a cage. However, you must keep in mind that they are very dependent birds when too much attention is paid to them. It is important that we teach them to fend for themselves.
You can develop allergies as the seasons change, but did you know that your pet develops them too? If seasonal allergies are not treated, they can progress to a more serious problem that can affect your pet’s health.