Bird Basics


Hello! Welcome to the Bird Studies department here at the University of E&E! My name is Baxter and I am a Blue Footed Booby bird. I hail from the famous Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean!

We birds live on every continent on the earth, including Antarctica! There is much more to learn about my feathered friends, so I am going to give you the basics!


There are around 9,000 species of birds in the world. We are in every habitat on earth. Because we are so adaptable, we are considered the most successful animal on the planet. The earliest birds were descendants of the dinosaurs. Fossils of my long lost relatives have been found that are 150 million years old.


What makes a bird a bird?

  • We have feathers. Our feathers are made from keratin.
  • We are endothermic (warm blooded).
  • We lay eggs.
  • We are vertebrates.
  • We have hollow bones. This helps us fly.
  • We have no teeth.

Feathers are our most distinctive feature. Feathers are made of keratin (the same protein that makes up human hair and nails). We have flight feathers on our wings. We have down feathers close to our body to keep us warm. Our tail feathers are made to help us fly. We must preen (clean) our feathers to keep them healthy. There are some birds who cannot fly including; kiwi, kakapo, penguins and ostrich.


Our beaks/bills are also covered in keratin and they are shaped for what type of food we eat.


Instead of paws, we have feet. Our feet have 2 to 4 toes. Most of us have 4 toes, 3 that face forward and one that faces backward. This is perfect for sitting on tree branches. Those birds that spend time in water have webbed feet.


We must keep our body temperature at 104 degrees. It is important that we control our heat loss.


Lastly, we lay eggs. Our mating rituals include dancing, songs and plumage displays. Our eggs are made of calcium carbonate. We lay eggs in nests, on rocks, on the beach and even on the ground. Some of us are born without feathers and our eyes closed. Some of us are, like ducks, are born with down feathers and our eyes open.


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