About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, September 29, 2014

5 things you might have wondered about birds

1. How birds are related:
Appearances can be deceiving. Birds that look or act similar are not necessarily related. All animals with feathers are in the Class called Birds or Aves. Humans and all the other warm-blooded vertebrate animals with hair and females that produce milk are in the Class called Mammalia. There are about 10,000 species of birds. So the difference between the American Robin and the Downy Woodpecker is similar to that between sharks and goldfish (fish), or dogs and cats (mammals), or lizards and snakes (reptiles).

2. How birds migrate:
So how do birds that migrate know where to go? The upper beak of a bird has magnetite receptors that act like a GPS to determine which way they're flying. Along with this internal compass that uses the Earth’s geomagnetic field, birds use light, stars, and other external cues to guide them on remarkably long journeys.

3. How birds find food:
Most birds find food by sight. Some birds fly in flocks and may send out a scout bird to forage for new feeding sites. Or solitary birds may see a lot of birds at a feeder and go see what all the fuss is about.

4. How birds communicate:
Bird vocalizations are a complex collection of sounds that can be divided into at least three general categories: chip notes, call notes, and songs. These sounds impress and attract a mates, declare territorial boundaries, identify family members, announce the presence of a predator, and convey information about food. But it doesn't stop there. Pigeons and Mourning Doves use a wing whistle noise to warn their flock about approaching enemies and woodpeckers use drumming to communicate.
Wild Birds Unlimited Seed Cylinder feeder

5. How birds fly:
Flight is the main mode of locomotion used by most of the world's bird species. Birds have evolved many unique adaptations to survive. The most obvious adaptation to flight is the wing, but because flight is so energetically demanding birds have evolved several other adaptations to improve efficiency when flying. Birds' bodies are streamlined to help overcome air-resistance. Also, the bird skeleton is hollow to reduce weight, and many unnecessary bones have been lost, along with the toothed jaw of early birds, which has been replaced with a lightweight beak. The skeleton's breastbone has also adapted into a large keel, suitable for the attachment of large, powerful flight muscles.

Related Articles
How do so many tiny birds migrate so far? http://goo.gl/k4gn9u
Can birds crossbreed? http://goo.gl/sWz0JW
Best place to put bird feeders http://goo.gl/HvWf2N
How birds communicate besides singing http://goo.gl/Uno75B

What Weighs More, Bird's Feathers or Bird's Bones? http://goo.gl/qEIYcb