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What Group Best Fits The Bird You Want

To Identify?
Waterfowl & Marshland Birds
Perching & Tree-clinging
Loons, Grebes,
Pelicans & Cormorants,
Bitterns, Herons, & Ibises, Cuckoos,
Swans, Geese, & Ducks, Woodpeckers,
See Visual Type Shorebirds, Gulls & Terns, Swifts & Humm
s and Rails, Coots & Cranes, ingbirds
Silhouette Comp
arison See Visual Types a
Predatory Birds
Silhouette Compar
Hawks, Falcons, & Eagl
,Owls, Vultures
Song Birds
See Visual Types and
Silhouette Comparison

Upland Ground Birds

Tyrant Flycatchers, Larks, Swallows, Corvids ,
Chickadees, Nuthatches & Creepers,
Grouse, Quails,
Wrens & Dippers, Kinglets & Gnatcatchers,
Pheasants, & Tu
Thrushes, Thrashers, Pipits, Waxwings, Shrikes,
, Starlings, Vireos, Warblers, Tanagers, Sparrows,
Pigeons & Dove Grosbeaks, Icterids, Fringillids
See Visual Types and ,
Silhouette Comparison Goatsuckers &
American Goldfinch
(Carduelis tristis)

Spotted Towhee
(Pipilo maculatus)

American Robin
(Turdus migratorius)
Northern Harrier
(Circus cyaneus)

Red-tailed Hawk
(Buteo jamaicensis)
Tree Swallow
(Tachycineta bicolor)

Swallow Barn Swallow
Brewers Cowbird
(Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Red-winged Blackbird
(Agelaius phoeniceus)
(Pandion haliaetus)

Turkey Vulture
(Cathartes aura)
Western Scrub-Jay
(Aphelocoma californica)

Yellow Warbler
(Dendroica petechi

Belted Kingfisher
(Ceryle alcyon)
Double-crested Cormorant
(Phalacrocorax auritus)

Wood Duck
(Aix sponsa)

(Anas platyrhynchos)
Black-capped Chickadee
(Poecile atricapillus)

Northern Flicker
(Colaptes auratus

European Starling
(Sturnus vulgaris)
Cladogram of Tetrapods:

Sauropsids (reptile-like appearance - Greek)

Diapsids (two arches - Greek)

Lepidosaurs Archosaurs


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Ruling Reptile
Group includes dinosaurs
(Read chapter 16 (VL) to
your hearts content)

Birds: (~ 30 orders; ~ 193 families; ~ 9700 species)

First appearance in fossil record = Jurassic
The Original Link Between Birds and Reptiles
Class: Aves

Reptilian Features:
1) Non-keratinized snout
Teeth present
2) Trunk vertebrae not fused
3) Neck attaches to skull from rear
4) Long tail with free vertebrae
Believed evolved 5) Ankle / wrist bones free
From theropods
Avian Features:
1) Feathers
Most likely capable
of sustained flight 2) Opposable big toe (hallux)
~ 1.5 km / 40 kph 3) Furcula (wishbone) present

Mastery of flight opened a world of ecological opportunities

Avian Anatomical Adaptations for Flight: ???
1) Streamlined body:

Reduced resistance
when moving through vs.

Similar to reptilian scales (beta-keratin present in birds / reptiles)
Retain scales on non-feathered parts
Dead structures; damage repair = replacement
Specialized pockets of epidermal / dermal cells (follicles)
Feathers appear in fossil record long before flight (e.g., Caudipteryx)
Hypotheses: 1) Insulation to retain heat (not endothermic)
2) Social interactions (e.g., reproduction)
3) Shading / insulation for eggs
Current Functions of Feathers:

Avian Anatomical Adaptations for Flight:

2) Feathers:
A) Contour Feathers (flight feathers vaned)
Long central shaft (rachis)
Broad vane with numerous barbs
Barbules hook barbs together
Calamus (quill) anchors feather in follicle (skin)
Mobile individual muscles control each feather
Stream-lined; decreases drag
Asymmetrical & curved (independent airfoils)
B) Filoplumes (Provide sensory information)
Long rachis with few barbs at end
C) Down Feathers (Insulation)
Lack central shaft; barbs from feather base
lack barbules; barbs move freely 2000 4000 feathers
(~ 15% BW)

Feather Tracts:
Feather attachments
grouped in dense

Avian Anatomical Adaptations for Flight:

2) Feathers:
Range from drab to colorful
A) Biochrome Pigments
Melanins = earth tones (e.g., grays / blacks / browns)
Resist feather wear (e.g., black wing tips resist fraying)
Resist bacterial degradation (wet climate = dark color)
Absorb energy (thermoregulation / feather drying)
Carotenoids = vibrant colors (e.g., bright yellows / oranges / reds)
Derived from diet (honest signaling)
Porphyrins = vibrant colors (e.g., bright brown / green / magenta)
Chemically related to hemoglobin
B) Structural Colors
Result from physical alteration of light (e.g., iridescences)
Nanometer-scale structuring in feather:
1) Air bubbles = White (unpigmented feathers)
Can occur
together 2) Melanin granules (melanosomes) = iridescence
High UV reflectance (birds capable of detecting UV light!)
Yellow-thigh Parrot


Avian Anatomical Adaptations for Flight:

2) Feathers:
Feather care important
Uropygial (Preen) Gland:
Located at base of rump
Secrete rich oil (waxes / fatty acids / fat / water)
Preserves feather moistness / flexibility
Cleans / waterproofs feathers
Regulates bacterial / fungal growth
Repel would-be predators (foul-smelling)
Birds go through series of feather coats in lifetime Seasonal display
Molt: Replacement of entire plumage (= feather coat) replace feather wear
parasite infestations

Juvenile Adult Non-breeding Breeding


Avian Anatomical Adaptations for Flight:

3) Bones:
A) Pneumatic: (air-filled; reinforced with internal struts (= trabeculae)
Reduced weight (but see diving birds)
B) Number reduction: (weight)
No teeth
Carpal / tarsal bone reduction
Digits lost
C) Fusion: (strength / stability)
Thoracic vertebrae fused (platform)
Synsacrum (pelvic support)
Pygostyle (tail feather support) Uncinate
Furculum (wishbone spring)
Carpometacarpus / Tarsometatarsus
D) Additional Modifications
Keeled sternum (muscle attachment)
Enlarged humerus (major force)

Avian Anatomical Adaptations for Flight:

4) Muscles:
Muscle reduction
Jaws power not necessary (food swallowed whole / in chunks)
Legs rigid skeleton provides support; perching only major requirement
Muscle centralized on proximal portion of limb (center of gravity)
Flight muscles
Size increase; location near center of gravity
Both up-stroke (supracoracoideus) and down-stroke (pectoralis) muscles
originate on keel
5) Forelimbs Modified as Wings:

Airfoils to
Passive Flight
Flight: (requires little energy)

Active Flight
(requires lots of energy)
Parachuting Gliding Soaring
(drop with little control) (membranes = lift) (utilize wind currents)

Evolution of Active Flight: Arborealists

From the Tree Down Theory of Flight:
Early ancestors tree climbers jumped from tree to tree
Selective pressure favored increased distance / lift

Gliding Weak Flapping Full Airborne Flapping

From the Ground Up Theory of Flight:
Early ancestors fast bipedal runners wings lightened load
Flapping evolved to provide additional forward propulsion
Early ancestors used wings to snare insects
Flapping evolved to assist horizontal jumps for prey
Early ancestors used wings to run up steep slopes
Wing Assisted Incline Running

Flight: 1% of energy expended

per mile covered (versus mouse)
Cost / Benefit of Flying:

Costs: Benefits:
Energetically costly (short-term) cost / unit distance
Limits range of body size Exploitation of new resources
Birds = variation than other verts. Escape from predators
64,000x vs. 50,000,000x

Metabolic / Energetic Requirements for Flight:

Birds core temperature higher than
Reduction in Weight (= reduce cost of flight) similar sized mammal
Visceral organs small but efficient; pneumatic skeleton
High Metabolic Rate ( ability to sustain muscle activity)
Endothermy: Core temp. sustained by heat released from metabolic processes
1) Faster response time for brain / muscles
2) Activity levels maintained in cold environments
Disadvantage: caloric intake required

Required Modifications for Endothermy:
1) Cardiovascular System
Larger, more muscular heart
blood flow / blood pressure
Separation of O2-rich / O2-poor blood
hemoglobin concentration in blood
2) Respiratory System
exchange surface / unit lung volume
Unidirectional air flow (no mixing of fresh / stale air)
blood flow to lungs
3) Insulation (= feathers)
Mechanics of Wing Design:
Two types of contour feathers present on wing:
1) Primaries: Located on hand; provide thrust
2) Secondary: Located on back of arm; provide lift
During upstroke, air passes between
Force produced as air passes wing: flight feathers = cost reduction
1) Lift = Vertical force equal to or greater than weight of bird
A) Cambered Airfoil
Upward curvature of wing; tapers toward back
Bernoulli Ventral = High pressure; Dorsal = Low pressure
camber allows for flight at slower speeds
B) Angle of Attack
Leading edge of wing tilted; pressure dorsally
Stalling angle = airflow separates from wing (~ 15)
Alula Bastard wing
Reduce drag by improving air flow
over wing (= steeper angle of attacks)

Mechanics of Wing Design:
Force produced as air passes wing:
2) Drag = Component opposing forward movement; created by turbulent air flow
Highest at tips of wings
Reduce effect = 1) Taper wing
2) Lengthen wing
Aspect ratio = measures amount of wing drag produced, relative to lift
Ratio = wing span / wing width
Low Aspect Ratio = Wide, short wings (higher drag)
High Aspect Ratio = long, narrow wings (lower drag)
Wing Loading: (Ratio = body mass / wing surface area)
Correlates to size body mass faster than surface area as body size
Low Wing Loading = more maneuverable; power needed to sustain flight
High Wing Loading = less maneuverable; often soaring birds
Major Structural Wing Types:

Elliptical High Speed Dynamic Soaring High Lift

Characteristic (Long & narrow) (Long & broad)
(short & rounded) (Taper to point)

Sparrow Swallow albatross eagle

Examples: Robin Duck shearwater vulture
Pigeon Falcon petrel raven

Camber High Low Very low High

Alula Large Absent Absent Large

Speed Slow Fast Fast Slow Mod.

Acceleration Fast Slow Slow Fast

Maneuverability High Moderate Very Low High

Endurance Low High Very High Moderate

Aspect Ratio Low (3 6) Moderate (5 9) Very high (9 18) Moderate (6 7)

Low (small birds) Moderate

Wing Loading Low (small birds) Moderate - High
(can pick up weight)
High (large birds)

Utilize colors, postures, and vocalizations for species, sex, and individual
Bird Song: Complex array of notes, often with frequency modulation
Often male specific and during breeding season
Learned behavior; window of opportunity during development
Species specific; regional dialects relatively common
1) Attract mates
2) Repel rivals
Visual displays often associated with song:
select males based on visual characteristics :
Good nutritional status
Low parasite loads truth in advertising
Predator avoidance
prefer with longer
tails and more eye spots

Offspring grew faster;

survival rates
Birds Better quality mate
Increased heterozygosity
hedging your bets
Birds exhibit two broad categories of mating systems:
1) Monogamy: Pair bond between single male and female (~ 90% of bird species)
Both parents required to raise young (e.g., food acquisition)
Resource distribution (even control impossible)
Skewed sex ratio (partner becomes prized resource)
MONOGAMY does not necessarily mean FIDELITY
Extra-pair copulation common

2) Polygamy: Individuals mate with > one partner during single breeding season
Polygyny = Single multiple ; Polyandry = Single / many

Aggregation of
many males

Resource defense Male dominance Resource defense

polygyny polygyny polyandry

Reproduction: Why?
All birds are oviparous Constraints based on flight

Most likely ancestral reproductive mode

No pressure to evolve vivipary (e.g. endothermy = incubated eggs always warm)

Genetic sex determination

Heterogametic chromosomes = WZ / = ZZ

Nests protects eggs from physical stresses and predation:

Egg Incubation
~ 33 37 C Shallow depression
(e.g., Killdeer)

Megapodes bury eggs

Brood Patch
Feathers lost;
Blood vessels proliferate Elaborate structure
Colonial Nesting
(e.g., osprey)
Protection in numbers Stimulated by prolactin

Clutch size variable:
1) Trade-off Hypotheses: Driving force is maximization of lifetime reproductive success
Physical strain on females / exposure to predation during food collection
2) Predation Hypotheses: Driving force is minimization of nest detection by predators
More eggs / young = detection (sound / smell / trips to nest / etc.)
3) Seasonality Hypotheses: Driving force is food availability during breeding season
More eggs / young = food reserves / competition
Incubation may last
Young at differing levels of development at hatching: from 10 80 days
Altricial < Precocial
Precocial Semiprecocial Altricial
Growth Rates:
High yolk Moderate yolk Low yolk
Altricial > Precocial
Down present Down present Down Absent
Eyes open Eyes open Eyes closed Infanticide
Mobile Semi-mobile Not mobile
Self-feeding Not self-feeding Not self-feeding

Ducks Hawks Passerines

Shared Characteristics:
Ducks: (~ 35 species in North America)
1) 3 front toes completely webbed
2) Penis present in males
3) Bill typically flattened / blunt-tipped

Characteristic Dabbling Ducks Diving Ducks Sea Ducks

Northern Shoveler Redhead Bufflehead
Examples American Widgeon Canvasback Eider
Cinnamon Teal Lesser Scaup Merganser
Relatively long; Short but strong; Short but strong;
centered under body set far back on body set far back on body
Feet Smaller Larger; long outer toes Larger; long outer toes

Feeding Dip head underwater; Dive from surface; Dive from surface;
skim surface with bill wings pressed to body wings open (steer / paddle)
Invertebrates; Invertebrates Invertebrates;
aquatic vegetation fish (rare)

Wings Big, broad wings; Smaller wings; Smaller wings;

lower wing loading higher wing load higher wing load

Flight More maneuverable; Less maneuverable; Less maneuverable;

can fly slow need room to take off need room to take off
Shallow edges of lake; Center of lake; Marine coastlines;
surface in deeper areas deeper water fast, clear streams
Ducks: (~ 35 species in North America)
Duck Life Histories:
Mating Behavior:
Initiated late fall / early winter (wintering grounds / migration) Tufted Duck head raise
Skewed sex ratio many ; fewer
Form monogamous pair bond (seasonal)
Males attract females via:
1) Visual Displays:
Coloration (s more colorful than s)
Most elaborate in dabblers

Ruddy Duck tail raise

2) Vocal Displays (primarily dabblers) Dabbler Specialty:

Dabblers have louder, deeper voices Iridescent speculum on wing
Lift wing to display speculum
Ducks: (~ 35 species in North America)
Duck Life Histories:
Nesting Characteristics:
Location of Nest:
Dabblers = Ground
Divers = Emergent / Floating vegetation
Sea = Tree cavities
Age at 1st reproduction:
Dabblers / Divers = 1 year
Sea = 2-3 years Brood parasitism
# of Eggs in Nest: does occur
Dabblers / Divers = 8 12 eggs
Sea = < 8 eggs (space issues in cavity)
Females only (20 30 days)
Pair bond only lasts until eggs are laid
Parental Care:
Females: 2 6 weeks; guard from predators
Ducks: (~ 35 species in North America)
Duck Life Histories:
Seasonal Migration Patterns:
Benefit = Net increase in lifetime reproductive output Reduce Cost
Spring Summer:
Breed at high latitudes (e.g., Canada / Alaska; long days = increased foraging)
insect population for young
Fall Winter:
Fly south to avoid physical stresses of extreme cold / lack of food
Costs = 1) death rate for young
2) food acquisition for energy to travel
3) Restricted stops (fewer wetlands to choose from)

4 major N-S flyways in North America

(Ducks heading to Alaska)
10% Fly at night; usually < 1000 ft.
25% 10% Variety of orientation methods:
Sun / star compasses
Magnetic field