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The Birds Portal

Pardalotus with nesting material.jpg
A Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) collecting nesting material in its beak.
Welcome to the Birds Portal! Birds (class Aves) are bipedal, warm-blooded, oviparous vertebrate animals. Most scientists believe that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs. Ranging in size from tiny hummingbirds to the huge Ostrich and Emu, there are between 9,000 and 10,000 known living bird species in the world, making Aves the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrate.

A bird is characterized by feathers, a toothless beak, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a light but strong skeleton. All birds have forelimbs modified as wings and most can fly.

Birds are important sources of food, acquired either through farming or hunting. Numerous species of birds are also used commercially, and some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular pets. Birds figure prominently in all aspects of human culture from religion to poetry and popular music. Numerous species of birds are threatened with extinction by human activities and as a result efforts are underway to protect them.

Selected article

Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus)
Albatrosses, of the biological family Diomedeidae, are large seabirds allied to the procellariids, storm-petrels and diving-petrels in the order Procellariiformes (the tubenoses). They range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic, although fossil remains show they once occurred there too and occasional vagrants turn up. Albatrosses are amongst the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses (genus Diomedea) have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. The albatrosses are usually regarded as falling into four genera, but there is disagreement over the number of species.

Albatrosses are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring and slope soaring to cover great distances with little exertion. They feed on squid, fish and krill by either scavenging, surface seizing or diving. Albatrosses are colonial, nesting for the most part on remote oceanic islands, often with several species nesting together. Pair bonds between males and females form over several years, with the use of ritualised dances, and will last for the life of the pair. A breeding season can take over a year from laying to fledging, with a single egg laid in each breeding attempt.

Of the 21 species of albatrosses recognised by the IUCN, 19 are threatened with extinction. Numbers of albatrosses have declined in the past due to harvesting for feathers, but today the albatrosses are threatened by introduced species such as rats and feral cats that attack eggs, chicks and nesting adults; by pollution; by a serious decline in fish stocks in many regions largely due to overfishing; and by long-line fishing. Long-line fisheries pose the greatest threat, as feeding birds are attracted to the bait and become hooked on the lines and drown. Governments, conservation organisations and fishermen are all working towards reducing this by-catch.

Selected picture

Mandarin Duck at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, Gloucestershire, England.
Credit: Arpingstone
The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck.


Anatomy: Anatomy - Skeleton - Flight - Eggs - Feathers - Plumage

Evolution and extinction: Evolution - Archaeopteryx - Hybridisation - Late Quaternary prehistoric birds - Fossils - Taxonomy - Extinction

Behaviour: Singing - Intelligence - Migration - Reproduction - Nesting - Incubation - Brood parasites

Bird Orders: Struthioniformes - Tinamiformes - Anseriformes - Galliformes - Gaviiformes - Podicipediformes - Procellariiformes - Sphenisciformes - Pelecaniformes - Ciconiiformes - Phoenicopteriformes - Falconiformes - Gruiformes - Charadriiformes - Pteroclidiformes - Columbiformes - Psittaciformes - Cuculiformes - Strigiformes - Caprimulgiformes - Apodiformes - Coraciiformes - Piciformes - Trogoniformes - Coliiformes - Passeriformes

Bird lists: Families and orders - Lists by region

Birds and Humans: Ringing - Ornithology - Bird collections - Birdwatching - Birdfeeding - Conservation - Aviculture


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Free online resources:

  • SORA: The Searchable Online Research Archive (SORA) has decades worth of archives of the following journals: The Auk, Condor, Journal of Field Ornithology, North American Bird Bander, Studies in Avian Biology, Pacific Coast Avifauna, and the Wilson Bulletin. Coverage ends around 2000. The ability to search all journals or browse exists on the front page.
  • Notornis: The Journal of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand covers New Zealand and the South Pacific.
  • New Zealand Journal of Ecology: This journal often publishes bird-related articles. Like Notornis, this journal is concerned with New Zealand and surrounding areas.
  • Marine Ornithology: Published by the numerous Seabird Research Groups, Marine Ornithology is specific and goes back many years.
  • BirdLife International: The Data Zone has species accounts for every species, although threatened species and some key groups have greater detail with others only having status and evaluation.
  • Authors Names: This is a good source for binomial authorities for taxoboxes.

There is also Birds of North America, Cornell University's massive project collecting information on every breeding bird in the ABA area. It is available for 40 USD a year.

For more sources, including printed sources, see WikiProject Birds.

Selected species

Male and female Superb Fairy-wrens
The Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus), also known as Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as Blue wren, is a passerine bird of the Maluridae family. Sedentary and territorial, it is found across south-eastern Australia. The male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle and tail with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour. Two subspecies are recognised. Like other fairy-wrens, the Superb Fairy-wren is notable for several peculiar behavioural characteristics; birds are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display. The Superb Fairy-wren can be found in almost any area that has at least a little dense undergrowth for shelter. It has adapted well to the urban environment. The Superb Fairy-wren mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds.

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Related portals

Collaboration of the month

Eagle 01.svg The current Bird Collaboration of the Month is Tinamou.

Every month a different bird-related topic, article, stub or non-existent article is picked. Please improve the article any way you can.

Things you can do

Create requested articles (WikiProject Birds – Article requests):

Do these tasks: The current project collaboration is Tinamou

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:

More outstanding tasks at the cleanup listing on Labs, Category:Birds articles needing attention, and Wikipedia:WikiProject Birds#Tasklist.

Taxonomy of Aves

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia sister projects provide more on this subject:
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