10 characteristics of BIRDS
Birds or birds are vertebrate animals adapted for flight. Many can also run, jump, swim, and dive. Some, like penguins, have lost the ability to fly but retain their wings. Birds are found all over the world and in all habitats. The largest is the nine foot tall ostrich. The smallest is the two-inch-long hummingbird. Let's see the main characteristics of birds that differentiate them from other living beings.
Features of birds or birds
- body size: Birds bred as pets come in sizes from small (10 centimeters) from the beak to the end of their back feathers to large (the wing of parrots can easily reach 1 meter) and in colors from dull grays and browns to reds, yellows , bright greens and blues. Because they are specially adapted for flight, most birds weigh very little. Even the largest captive parrots (some types of macaws) rarely exceed about 1,200 grams, and medium to large parrots can weigh from 250 to 900 grams. Their bones are particularly light, and some are filled with air.
- Metabolism: Birds have a much faster metabolism than people. The normal body temperature of domestic birds generally ranges from 38 to 41.7°C, depending on the species. The more active a bird is, the more food it must consume relative to its body weight. Very active birds, such as hummingbirds, can consume their body weight in food every day. Birds have very efficient digestive systems that allow them to eat enough to provide their bodies with the necessary energy, while minimizing their body weight to allow flight.
- Temperature regulation: Birds don't sweat, but they have developed other strategies to stay cool in very hot conditions. Most birds hold their wings up to cool off. If water is available, they will bathe and cool down as the water evaporates. Another cooling technique in birds is panting. In many cases with pet birds, panting is a sign that the bird is severely overheated. Panting implies a faster respiratory rate (more breaths per minute) and, in many species, a rapid fluttering of the throat. The flapping causes heat loss from the mucous membranes of the throat and from the very crowded blood vessels.
- Vision: Birds are highly dependent on the ability to see. Not only are good eyesight needed to fly, it is also essential to find food and water, find a mate, and avoid predators. The degree to which a bird depends on sight is evident in the size of a bird's eye in relation to its body. In humans, the eyes occupy only about 1% of the weight of the head. In birds, the eye makes up a much larger portion. For example, European starlings have eyes that make up about 15% of the head. In many birds, the weight of the 2 eyes is greater than the weight of the brain. And, compared to human brains, the optic lobe in a bird's brain is larger and better developed. The great vision of birds is also due to the position of the eyes on the head, the shape of the eyeball, the ability to focus quickly, the regulation of light, and special variations in the retina of the eye. A bird's eye adjusts to light level about twice as fast as a 20-year-old human. The lens in the eyes of many birds is very flexible, allowing them to quickly change their focus from near to far. This is an advantage for birds that must view their dinner from above and then accurately drop down to catch it. Color vision is not universal in birds, but it occurs in many. Some birds can even see colors outside the range of humans. For example, several species of birds are known to be able to see ultraviolet light. Birds with ultraviolet light perception are believed to use this ability to help them choose mates.
- Hearing: Most birds have ears set slightly back and just below eye level. The ear opening is concealed by specialized feathers known as ear coverts. These feathers have a texture that differs from other feathers on the head. If you carefully move these feathers to the side, you can see the opening of your bird's outer ear. The exact shape and size of the ear opening varies by species. The sound captured by the outer ear passes to the middle ear and then to the inner ear. The inner ear passes these signals to the brain, which interprets the sounds.
- Smell and taste: For a long time it was believed that smell is an underdeveloped sense in most birds. However, research over the past 20 years has shown that while birds' sense of smell may be more limited than that of some animals, birds rely on this sense for food and navigation. Many birds, including vultures and seabirds, rely on their sense of smell to find food. The sense of smell also helps pet birds to choose their favorite foods. Many bird owners know that even when hiding a favorite food, their pets will use scent to locate their favorites. In other cases, smell may be a critical sense in navigation. For example, homing pigeons were tested for the use of olfaction when finding their home nests; birds with experimentally blocked nostrils took longer to find their way home.
- Locomotion: For many thousands of years, the front legs of birds have been specially adapted for flight. The wings, together with the feathers, are what allow a bird to fly. They provide the lift needed to take off and move in the air. The wing bones are particularly strong and light, and serve as anchors for the feathers and for the powerful muscles and tendons necessary for flight. Each bird has a wing shape that is appropriate for its life pattern. For example, long, narrow wings are typical of birds (such as albatross) that spend much of their lives flying along thermal winds. High speed wings are useful for birds that travel at high speeds, such as swallows. Eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey have high-lift wings that allow them to lift off the ground even with a heavy weight in their talons. The elliptical wings are in the shape of half an oval. This shape increases maneuverability in the air and allows birds to quickly change direction in flight, a useful skill for songbirds, sparrows, and others who must avoid becoming another bird's dinner.
- Peaks and feet: Over time, both the beaks and the feet of birds have adapted to the different environments in which the birds live. As Charles Darwin first noticed during his famous visit to the Galapagos Islands, the beaks have evolved to help a particular bird eat its preferred diet. For example, hummingbirds have a long, narrow beak, suitable for eating nectar from flowers; hawks have sharp beaks useful for tearing their prey apart; and birds on islands where cacti are abundant have beaks that allow them to find and eat cactus fruit efficiently. Parrots have beaks that are strong and hook-shaped. With their flexible necks, parrots can use their beaks not only to crack the hard outer shells on nuts and fruits, but also for pre-packing and preparation and for defense. Also, their strong bills can be used to help them climb and balance, and to help build nests and feed their chicks.
- Fur and feathers: Birds have sensitive skin that allows them to sense and feel pressure, heat, and cold. A bird's feathers grow from the inner layer of the skin (the dermis). Feathers provide flight assistance, insulation from the cold, waterproofing, and in some cases camouflage. In some species, feathers can also indicate sex and mating status. There are 8 main types of feathers, including 3 types of contour feathers, semi-feathers, down-feathers, natal down, bristles, and filo-feathers. Contour feathers cover most of a bird's body and are used for flight. Each contour feather has a central hollow feather that begins at the base of the feather and connects to a central shaft known as the rachis. They branch out from the rachis and are blades that, in turn, support the spikes. Each barb has many smaller hooked segments known as barbules. The barbules are joined together, making the feather strong and even. There are 3 types of contour feathers: body feathers, flight feathers (wing feathers called quills and tail feathers called lattices), and ear coverts.
- Mouth and digestive system: Birds do not have teeth. They use their beaks to separate the food they eat. Also, birds lack a soft palate at the back of their mouths. Food is pushed through the muscles of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) until it reaches the crop, where it is stored and sometimes partially digested before passing into the stomach. Unlike humans, birds have a two-part stomach consisting of the proventriculus and the ventricle or gizzard. The proventriculus produces digestive fluids that help break down food. Once the digestive fluids have soaked into the food, it passes into the gizzard where it is ground. In some birds, the work of the gizzard is enhanced by sand and small stones that the bird has swallowed for this purpose. This grinding material is called grit. Not all birds need it, but some do. Your vet can advise you on the amount and type of grain that is most appropriate for your particular bird.
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ENCICLOPEDIA DE CARACTERÍSTICAS (2023) 10 characteristics of BIRDS, en 10caracteristicas.com. https://10caracteristicas.com/en/10-characteristics-of-birds/ (Consultado el: 22-09-2023)
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