Portal:Birds

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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

Red kite (Milvus milvus) in flight, showing remiges and rectrices
The term flight feather refers to any of the long, stiff, asymmetrical feathers on the wing or tail of a bird; those on the wing are called remiges (singular remex) while those on the tail are called rectrices (singular rectrix). Their primary function is to aid in the generation of both thrust and lift, thereby enabling flight. However, the flight feathers of some birds have evolved to perform additional functions, generally associated with territorial displays, courtship rituals or feeding methods. In some species, these feathers have developed into long showy plumes used in visual courtship displays, while in others they create a sound during display flights. Tiny serrations on the leading edge of their remiges help owls to fly silently (and therefore hunt more successfully), while the extra-stiff rectrices of woodpeckers help them to brace against tree trunks as they hammer. Even flightless birds still retain flight feathers, though sometimes in radically modified forms.

The moult of their flight feathers can cause serious problems for birds, as it can impair their ability to fly. Different species have evolved different strategies for coping with this, ranging from dropping all their flight feathers at once (and thus becoming flightless for some relatively short period of time) to extending the moult over a period of several years.


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An osprey preparing to dive. Photographed at Kennedy Space Center.
Credit: NASA

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus), also known colloquially as seahawk, fish hawk or fish eagle, is a medium-large fish-eating bird of prey or raptor. However, It is not the same as a sea-eagle. It is found on all continents except Antarctica although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

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Topics

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 • Accipitriformes • 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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Resources

Free online resources:

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 US$40 a year.

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


Selected species

California condor
The California condor, Gymnogyps californianus, is a species of North American bird in the New World vulture family Cathartidae. Currently, this condor inhabits only the western coastal mountains of the United States, Baja California, and the Grand Canyon. It is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps, though fossil members are known. It is a large, black vulture with patches of white on the underside of the wings and a largely bald head with skin color ranging from yellowish to a glowing red, depending on the bird’s mood. It has the largest wingspan of any bird found in North America and is one of the heaviest. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. Condor numbers dramatically declined in the 20th century. A conservation plan was put in place by the United States government that led to the capture of all the remaining wild condors in 1987. Beginning in 1991, condors have been reintroduced into the wild. The California condor is one of the world's rarest bird species. As of 2005, there were only 273 individuals including 127 in the wild.


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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:


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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