Bird identification: Warora, India

Bird identification: Warora, India

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These photographs have been taken in Warora, India. Could someone please help identify this bird?

This is a pond heron or paddy bird. The de-facto source for identifying Indian birds is Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp. The book is remarkably complete and contains the vast majority of species found in the Indian Subcontinent.

Explore Desert Birds & Their Adaptations

Desert Birds: A desert is a barren landscape area with a little to no water (no precipitation) is found which makes the living condition extremely hostile for plants and animals.

In this extreme condition, there are different desert birds which thrive with many developed adaptations. In this page, let’s explore 15 such desert birds and their unique adaptations.

Princeton Field Guides 56

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Backyard Bird Identification Guide

American Crow

The American crow is completely black all over, including the legs and bill. It has long legs, a thick straight bill and its short tail is rounded at the end.

American Goldfinch

The American goldfinch has a small head and bill and a short tail, though the wings are long. The forehead is black, as are the wings which also have white markings. The male body is bright yellow in spring and summer, while the female is duller yellow underneath and an olive color above. In winter, the bird is brown with black wings.

American Robin

The American robin is a thrush with gray-brown upper parts and a rich red breast. The belly is white. The head is black with white patches around the eyes. The throat is white with black streaks. The tail and legs are long.

Black-Capped Chickadee

The black-capped chickadee is a tiny bird with a very large head in comparison to its body and a short neck and long thin tail. It has a gray back, wings and tail. The head has a black cap and bib, with white cheeks. The bill is short and thick.

Blue Jay

The blue jay is an intelligent bird which has a large crest and a wide, rounded tail. As it’s name suggests it is mainly blue in color, with various shades and also some black and white. It is a white or light gray color underneath.

Brown-Headed Cowbird

The brown-headed cowbird is a small blackbird with a thick head and a short, thick bill. The head is brown and the rest of the body a glossy black. The tail is shorter than other blackbirds. The female is plain brown.

Carolina Chickadee

The Carolina chickadee looks very similar to the black-capped chickadee with a black cap and bib and gray back, wings and tail. The black-capped chickadee is brighter in appearance and slightly larger. The head is also bigger and fluffier.

Carolina Wren

The Carolina wren is small with a round body, long tail and long thin bill. The upper body is a red-brown color with no pattern and underneath is buff/tan in color. They have a long white stripe above the eye and the throat and chin are also white.

Common Grackle

A large blackbird, the common grackle has a long tail and legs and stout bill. The female is a little smaller than the male. The common grackle appears black from a distance, but the head is purple and the upper body is bronze and shows green and purple. The eye is a gold color.

Dark-Eyed Junco

With its round head and short, thick bill, the dark-eyed junco is a medium-sized sparrow. There is a wide variation in plumage according to location but they are generally dark gray or brown in color with white outer feathers, a pink bill and a fairly long, notched tail.

Downy Woodpecker

The downy woodpecker has a straight chisel-like bill that is smaller than other woodpeckers. Their wings are black with a white checker-board pattern and the head has broad stripes. They have a wide white stripe down the middle of their back and the male has a small red patch on the head.

European Starling

The European starling has a short, dark tail. The upper body is dark and shiny with green and purple visible in bright light. The bill is stout and bright yellow. The feet and legs are orange-red to bright red. The wings are short and pointed.

Hairy Woodpecker

The hairy woodpecker is a medium sized black and white woodpecker. It has black wings that are checkered with white, a black back with a large white stripe running down it and a black head with two white stripes. The beak is long and chisel-like and the head square. The hairy woodpecker looks very similar to the downy woodpecker but is larger and has a longer beak.

House Finch

The house finch has a short, conical bill. The male has a red face and upper breast. The back and tail are brown with white streaks. The female is a gray-brown with streaks. Compared to other finches, the notch in the tail is relatively short.

House Sparrow

The house sparrow has a thick, conical bill and short legs. The body is stocky and the head is large and gray in color. The back and wings are brown with streaks of buff and black. The underparts are gray-brown. The female is a more plain brown overall.

Mourning Dove

With it’s small head and slender tail, the mourning dove is a graceful bird common throughout North America. They are a light brown or tan color with black spots on their wings. They are fast and straight flyers and forage for seeds on the ground.

Northern Cardinal

With a long tail, short thick bill and prominent red crest, the northern cardinal is a fairly large bird. The male is bright red all over with a black mask on its face around the bill. The female also has a black or gray face but its body is a dullish brown or tan color.

Northern Mockingbird

The northern mockingbird has a small head with a long, thin bill that curves slightly downwards. The wings are short and round. This medium-sized songbird has an overall brown-gray color which is paler on the underparts. The wings have white patches on them.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The red-bellied woodpecker is easily identified with its bold black and white wings and back and red head and neck. The underparts are gray-ish white, paler on the female than the male.

Red-Winged Blackbird

The red-winged blackbird is a stocky blackbird. The male is a glossy black color with distinctive red and yellow markings on the shoulders. The female is a plain brownish color all over.

Song Sparrow

The song sparrow is a medium sized sparrow that is mostly brown in color. The white chest has thick brown streaks on it as do the flanks. The song sparrow has a long, rounded tail. The head is rounded and the bill is short and stout.

Tufted Titmouse

The tufted titmouse is a small silver-gray bird with a white breast. The head is large with a pointed crest. The bill is short and thick, and there is a black patch just above it. The flank has an orange-rust color on it.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

The white-breasted nuthatch is a small bird with a white face and breast. The nape and crown are black while the upper body is a blue-gray color. The female tends to be duller than the male. The tail is short and the bill is long, thin and slightly up-turned.

White-Throated Sparrow

The white-throated sparrow is a medium sized sparrow with striped brown upper parts. The head has a black and white striped crown, with yellow spots between the bill and the eyes. The throat is white and the underside is gray. Both the tail and the legs are long.

List of Colorful Birds

Here we go! Welcome to the world of colorful birds!

1. Red-necked Tanager

Source: Wikimedia

Endemic to Eastern South America, the red necked tanager appears to be very bright with its yellow-orange wings, bright red chin, deep blue crown and lower neck, and a brilliant green underneath.

  • These colourful birds are known to reside in the canopy of forests and are characterized by their sharp “sip” sounding voices.
  • Generally, the red-necked Tanager molts (sheds its feathers) once in a year.

2. Mandarin Duck

Regarded as the world’s most beautiful duck, this native from China (hence the name) and Japan, this duck displays a wide array of colors such as blue, green, copper and silver.

  • While both genders of the duck have crest, this structure is more prominent on males, probably because this is mainly used to attract during mating.
  • In addition to that, males appear to be golden in appearance.

3. Blue Crowned Pigeon

Also known as the Western crowned pigeon, the blue crowned pigeon is characterized by having large blue crests in the head, and deep blue feathers around the eyes.

  • Western crowned pigeons are very large pigeons and in fact considered as one of the “fairest” members of the Family Columbidae (Pigeons).
  • Generally, like most birds in the animal kingdom, male blue crowned pigeons are larger as compared to their female counterparts.
  • These colorful birds are native to Papua New Guinea and they tend to be dispersed in the rains-forests of the islands.

4. Blue/Azure Kingfisher

Known to be great fish hunters from the riverside and sometimes above the water surface, blue kingfishers are small to medium size birds which have very colorful appearance.

  • The feathers of kingfishers are mostly bright blue/azure (hence the name) in color.
  • Unlike most birds, the feather color of kingfishers is caused by the structure of the feathers themselves. Such causes the scattering of blue light and is then reflected in our eyes, making them appear blue.
  • The distribution pattern of kingfishers is cosmopolitan. Meaning, they occur throughout the world, even in either temperate or tropical regions.

5. Paradise Tanager

Source: Wikimedia

Classy, neotropical, and colorful, the Paradise Tanager is really living up to its name. This bird, widely distributed in the tropical forests of the Amazon in South America, is small yet very colorful with its bright apple green head, yellow or red rump (depending on species), and a blue abdomen.

  • Aside from its appearance, the paradise tanager is a songbird, meaning, it can make various musical sounds that are pleasant to the ears.
  • One disclaimer though, this bird is not found in Chile, despite its species name T. chilensis.

6. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Considered the national bird of Peru, this small to medium sized bird made it to the list of most colorful birds.

  • Male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock birds are more colorful with their bright red head, breast, throat, and shoulders. They have grey wings, an overall black underparts, and a very prominent disk crests over their bill.
  • On the other hand, the female birds are orange to brown in color and have smaller crests.
  • This bird is usually found in the warm regions and usually reside riverbanks and forest streams.

7. Purple Gallinule

The Purple Gallinule is considered as one of the most beautiful birds primarily because of its plumage that displays a variety of colors.

  • Overall, this bird has a purple head, throat, and underparts, a green back,a blue forehead, and a red beak with yellow tip.
  • Added to this uniqueness is its legs which are yellow in color.
  • Interestingly, these colorful birds swim like ducks but can step on floating leaves like chickens.
  • Basically, this species of bird is widely distributed in the humid and tropical regions of the United States.

8. Yellow-collared Lovebird

Also known as Masked lovebirds, yellow collared lovebirds are small colorful birds which are generally green in appearance (although upper parts are darker). In addition to that, they have black-colored heads and white eyerings, and very bright red beaks.

  • As their name suggests, they have yellow collar which is extended to the nape of the neck.
  • Interestingly enough, the males and females of this species look identical in appearance.
  • These colourful birds are endemic to Tanzania but were already brought to other countries like Kenya and Burundi.

9. Northern Cardinal

Endemic to both North and South America, the Northern Cardinalis bird is a songbird characterized by striking red and black face mask which extends up to the upper chest.

2 thoughts on &ldquo Birds as Indicator Species &rdquo

Truthfully INTERESTING! I just completed a course in Ecology and read how birds are indicator species. I have been exploring my neighborhood trees for birds’ nests and believe that I am seeing multiple nests made of grass in several trees. These grass filled and round creations could be growths but I believe that they are nests. What could these nests (if they are) indicate? Mutualism ir commensalism also? And natural capital (natural resources and natural services)?

I’m not sure I understand. Are you talking about colonial nests? A photo would be helpful.

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The name "Flamingo" comes from Portuguese or Spanish flamengo, "flame-colored", in turn coming from Provençal flamenc from flama "flame" and Germanic-like suffix -ing, with a possible influence of the Spanish ethnonym flamenco "Fleming" or "Flemish". The generic name Phoenicopterus (from Greek: φοινικόπτερος phoinikopteros), literally means "blood red-feathered" has a similar etymology to the common name [3] other genera include Phoeniconaias, which means "crimson/red water nymph (or naiad)", and Phoenicoparrus, which means "crimson/red bird (though, an unknown bird of omen)".

Traditionally, the long-legged Ciconiiformes, probably a paraphyletic assemblage, have been considered the flamingos' closest relatives and the family was included in the order. Usually, the ibises and spoonbills of the Threskiornithidae were considered their closest relatives within this order. Earlier genetic studies, such as those of Charles Sibley and colleagues, also supported this relationship. [4] Relationships to the waterfowl were considered as well, [5] especially as flamingos are parasitized by feather lice of the genus Anaticola, which are otherwise exclusively found on ducks and geese. [6] The peculiar presbyornithids were used to argue for a close relationship between flamingos, waterfowl, and waders. [7] A 2002 paper concluded they are waterfowl, [8] but a 2014 comprehensive study of bird orders found that flamingos and grebes are not waterfowl, but rather are part of Columbea along with doves, sandgrouse, and mesites. [9]

Relationship with grebes

Recent molecular studies have suggested a relation with grebes, [10] [11] [12] while morphological evidence also strongly supports a relationship between flamingos and grebes. They hold at least 11 morphological traits in common, which are not found in other birds. Many of these characteristics have been previously identified on flamingos, but not on grebes. [13] The fossil palaelodids can be considered evolutionarily, and ecologically, intermediate between flamingos and grebes. [14]

For the grebe-flamingo clade, the taxon Mirandornithes ("miraculous birds" due to their extreme divergence and apomorphies) has been proposed. Alternatively, they could be placed in one order, with Phoenocopteriformes taking priority. [14]



Six extant flamingo species are recognized by most sources, and were formerly placed in one genus (have common characteristics) – Phoenicopterus. As a result of a 2014 publication, [16] the family was reclassified into two genera. [17] Currently, the family has three recognized genera, according to HBW. [18]

Image Species Geographic location
Greater flamingo
(Phoenicopterus roseus)
Old World Parts of Africa, S. Europe and S. and SW Asia (most widespread flamingo).
Lesser flamingo
(Phoeniconaias minor)
Africa (e.g. Great Rift Valley) to NW India (most numerous flamingo).
Chilean flamingo
(Phoenicopterus chilensis)
New World Temperate S. South America.
James's flamingo
(Phoenicoparrus jamesi)
High Andes in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
Andean flamingo
(Phoenicoparrus andinus)
High Andes in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
American flamingo
(Phoenicopterus ruber)
Caribbean islands, Caribbean Mexico, southern Florida, [19] Belize, coastal Colombia, northern Brazil, Venezuela and Galápagos Islands.

Prehistoric species of flamingo: [ citation needed ]

  • Phoenicopterus floridanusBrodkorb 1953 (Early Pliocene of Florida)
  • Phoenicopterus stocki(Miller 1944) (Middle Pliocene of Rincón, Mexico)
  • Phoenicopterus siamensisCheneval et al. 1991
  • Phoenicopterus gracilisMiller 1963 (Early Pleistocene of Lake Kanunka, Australia)
  • Phoenicopterus copei (Late Pleistocene of W North America and C. Mexico)
  • Phoenicopterus minutus (Late Pleistocene of California, US)
  • Phoenicopterus croizeti (Middle Oligocene – Middle Miocene of C. Europe)
  • Phoenicopterus aethiopicus
  • Phoenicopterus eyrensis (Late Oligocene of South Australia)
  • Phoenicopterus novaehollandiae (Late Oligocene of South Australia)

Flamingos usually stand on one leg, with the other being tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behaviour is not fully understood. One theory is that standing on one leg allows the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. [20] However, the behaviour also takes place in warm water and is also observed in birds that do not typically stand in water. An alternative theory is that standing on one leg reduces the energy expenditure for producing muscular effort to stand and balance on one leg. A study on cadavers showed that the one-legged pose could be held without any muscle activity, while living flamingos demonstrate substantially less body sway in a one-legged posture. [21] As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom. [22]

Flamingos are capable flyers, and flamingos in captivity often require wing clipping to prevent escape. A pair of African flamingos which had not yet had their wings clipped escaped from the Wichita, Kansas zoo in 2005. One was spotted in Texas 14 years later. It had been seen previously by birders in Texas, Wisconsin and Louisiana. [23]

Young flamingos hatch with grayish-red plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored, thus a more desirable mate a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception they may turn a pale pink if they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild. [24]

The greater flamingo is the tallest of the six different species of flamingos, standing at 3.9 to 4.7 feet (1.2 to 1.4 m) with a weight up to 7.7 pounds (3.5 kg), and the shortest flamingo species (the lesser) has a height of 2.6 feet (0.8 m) and weighs 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg). Flamingos can have a wingspan as small as 37 inches (94 cm) to as big as 59 inches (150 cm). [25]

Flamingoes can open their bills by raising the upper jaw as well as by dropping the lower. [26]


Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae as well as insect larvae, small insects, mollusks and crustaceans making them omnivores. Their bills are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. The filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae, which line the mandibles, and the large, rough-surfaced tongue. The pink or reddish color of flamingos comes from carotenoids in their diet of animal and plant plankton. American flamingos are a brighter red color because of the beta carotene availability in their food while the lesser flamingos are a paler pink due to ingesting a smaller amount of this pigment. These carotenoids are broken down into pigments by liver enzymes. [27] The source of this varies by species, and affects the color saturation. Flamingos whose sole diet is blue-green algae are darker than those that get it second-hand by eating animals that have digested blue-green algae). [28]

Vocalization sounds

Flamingos are considered very noisy birds with their noises and vocalizations ranging from grunting or growling to nasal honking. Vocalizations play an important role in parent-chick recognition, ritualized displays, and keeping large flocks together. Variations in vocalizations exist in the voices of different species of flamingos. [29] [30]


Flamingos are very social birds they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. These large colonies are believed to serve three purposes for the flamingos: avoiding predators, maximizing food intake, and using scarcely suitable nesting sites more efficiently. [31] Before breeding, flamingo colonies split into breeding groups of about 15 to 50 birds. Both males and females in these groups perform synchronized ritual displays. [32] The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, then uttering calls while head-flagging, and then flapping their wings. [33] The displays do not seem directed towards an individual, but occur randomly. [33] These displays stimulate "synchronous nesting" (see below) and help pair up those birds that do not already have mates. [32]

Flamingos form strong pair bonds, although in larger colonies, flamingos sometimes change mates, presumably because more mates are available to choose. [34] Flamingo pairs establish and defend nesting territories. They locate a suitable spot on the mudflat to build a nest (the female usually selects the place). [33] Copulation usually occurs during nest building, which is sometimes interrupted by another flamingo pair trying to commandeer the nesting site for their use. Flamingos aggressively defend their nesting sites. Both the male and the female contribute to building the nest, and to protecting the nest and egg. [35] Same-sex pairs have been reported. [36]

After the chicks hatch, the only parental expense is feeding. [37] Both the male and the female feed their chicks with a kind of crop milk, produced in glands lining the whole of the upper digestive tract (not just the crop). The hormone prolactin stimulates production. The milk contains fat, protein, and red and white blood cells. (Pigeons and doves—Columbidae—also produce crop milk (just in the glands lining the crop), which contains less fat and more protein than flamingo crop milk.) [38]

For the first six days after the chicks hatch, the adults and chicks stay in the nesting sites. At around 7–12 days old, the chicks begin to move out of their nests and explore their surroundings. When they are two weeks old, the chicks congregate in groups, called "microcrèches", and their parents leave them alone. After a while, the microcrèches merge into "crèches" containing thousands of chicks. Chicks that do not stay in their crèches are vulnerable to predators. [39]

In captivity

The first flamingo hatched in a European zoo was a Chilean flamingo at Zoo Basel in Switzerland in 1958. Since then, over 389 flamingos have grown up in Basel and been distributed to other zoos around the globe. [40]

Greater, an at least 83-year-old greater flamingo, believed to be the oldest in the world, died at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia in January 2014. [41]

Zoos have used mirrors to improve flamingo breeding behaviour. The mirrors are thought to give the flamingos the impression that they are in a larger flock than they actually are. [42]

While many different kinds of birds were valued items in Roman food, flamingos were among the most prized in Ancient Roman cuisine. An early reference to their consumption, and especially of their tongues, is found in Pliny the Elder, who states in the Natural History_(Pliny) X 67 :

"phoenicopteri linguam praecipui saporis esse apicius docuit, nepotum omnium altissimus gurges" [43]

[ Apicius, that very deepest whirlpool of all our epicures, has informed us that the tongue of the phœnicopterus is of the most exquisite flavour]. [44]

Although a few recipes for flamingos are found in Apicius' extant works, none refer specifically to flamingo tongues. The three flamingo recipes in the De re coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking) involve the whole creature:

  • 220 — roasted with an egg sauce, a recipe for wood pigeons, squabs, fattened fowl flamingo is an afterthought.
  • 230 — boiled you may substitute parrot.
  • 231 — roasted with a must sauce. [45]

Suetonius mentions flamingo tongues in his Life of Vitellius: [46]

"Most notorious of all was the dinner given by his brother to celebrate the emperor's arrival in Rome, at which two thousand of the choicest fishes and seven thousand birds are said to have been served. He himself eclipsed even this at the dedication of a platter, which on account of its enormous size he called the "Shield of Minerva, Defender of the City." In this he mingled the livers of pike, the brains of pheasants and peacocks, the tongues of flamingoes and the milt of lampreys, brought by his captains and triremes from the whole empire, from Parthia to the Spanish strait." [47]

Martial, the poet, devoted an ironic epigram (Epigrammata 71, Book 13), alluding to flamingo tongues:

Dat mihi penna rubens nomen sed lingua gulosis

Nostra sapit: quid, si garrula lingua foret? [48]

["My red wing gives me my name but it is my tongue that is considered savoury by epicures. What, if my tongue had been able to sing?"] [49]

There is also a mention of flamingo brains in a later, highly contentious source detailing, in the life of Elagabalus, a food item not apparently to his liking as much as camels' heels and parrot tongues, in the belief that the latter was a prophylactic:

"In imitation of Apicius he frequently ate camels-heels and also cocks-combs taken from the living birds, and the tongues of peacocks and nightingales, because he was told that one who ate them was immune from the plague. He served to the palace-attendants, moreover, huge platters heaped up with the viscera of mullets, and flamingo-brains, partridge-eggs, thrush-brains, and the heads of parrots, pheasants, and peacocks." [50]

Hummingbird-Sized “Dinosaur”, Thought To Be Smallest Known Bird, Is Actually New Weird Lizard

Surprise! Oculudentavis naga was a bizarre lizard that researchers initially thought was the smallest known bird. They are still unsure of its exact position in the lizard family tree. Image credit: Stephanie Abramowicz/Peretti Museum Foundation/Current Biology

By Rachael Funnell

Working with samples that have been preserved in amber for millions of years can make securing a confident identification quite the challenge. It’s easy to miss tell-tale species indicators among the quirks of the preservation process. This was certainly the case for one critter described in a recent study which had been – until recently – thought to be a hummingbird-like dinosaur. The research, published in the journal Current Biology, describes a new species of the genus Oculudentavis which is now believed to contain ancient lizards.

Named Oculudentavis naga, the new species pays tribute to the Naga people of Myanmar (where the specimen was found) and India. The Kinder Surprise prize of a specimen is made up of a partial skeleton, including the entire skull complete with visible scales and soft tissue. It hails from the same genus as another specimen found in the same area, Oculudentavis khaungraae, which alongside O. naga is thought to be around 99 million years old.

When it comes to millions-of-years-old amber specimens, working out what you're looking at can be tricky. Image credit: Adolf Peretti/Peretti Museum Foundation/Current Biology

Last year, a separate piece of research announced a new genus and species of the “early bird” O. khaungraae based on its fossilized skull. Shortly after its publication, the study was challenged by experts who thought its features better reflected those of a lizard, and the research was later retracted.

While all of this was going on, the researchers on this latest study were busy describing O. naga, the fossilized remains of which were better preserved compared to that used in the O. khaungraae study. However, despite its optimal preservation O. naga was still found to be such an unusual specimen that it proved quite the puzzle to work out exactly what it was.

Arnau Bolet of Barcelona's Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont led the research, using CT scans of both Oculudentavis species to compare their physical characteristics and earmark those which leaned towards the small animals being lizards.

"The specimen puzzled all of us at first because if it was a lizard, it was a highly unusual one," said Bolet in a statement.

Researchers remain unclear as to O naga's position within the lizard family tree. Image credit: Stephanie Abramowicz/Peretti Museum Foundation/Current Biology

The signs that swayed the researchers’ minds towards O. naga being a lizard included the presence of scales, teeth that were fused to its jawbone (not nestled into sockets like those of a dinosaur), and lizard-like eyes and shoulder bones. The soft tissue remains of O. naga also seemed to indicate the presence of a crest on top of the snout and a flap of loose skin, which could potentially have been used for display like the fancy dewlaps of anoles. There was also a hockey stick-shaped skull bone in O. naga which is shared among a group of reptiles known as the squamates, leading the researchers to believe that this could well be where O. naga sits.

"It's a really weird animal. It's unlike any other lizard we have today. We think it represents a group of squamates we were not aware of,” said herpetologist Juan Diego Daza in a statement. "We estimate that many lizards originated during this time, but they still hadn't evolved their modern appearance. That's why they can trick us. They may have characteristics of this group or that one, but in reality, they don't match perfectly."

Source Content

Birds of the World (BOW) content is written by ornithologists all over the world and was amassed from four major celebrated works of ornithology: Birds of North America, The Handbook of Birds of the World, Neotropical Birds, and Bird Families of the World. Below we provide a brief overview of these volumes plus the data and media sources that underpin its innovation.

Birds of North America
An out-of-print serial publication, formerly hosted online by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithological Society

The Birds of North America (BNA) provided encyclopedic coverage of the biology of North American breeding birds, with species accounts written by recognized experts. The BNA project was initiated in 1992 as a collaboration between the Academy of Natural Sciences and the American Ornithological Society (AOS formerly known as American Ornithologists’ Union), and while the content is owned by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, our editorial team continues to work closely with the AOS Advisory Committee. Initially produced in hard copy, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology along with BNA’s first editor, Alan Poole, spearheaded the second generation of the project by establishing BNA Online in 2004, which debuted as an online subscription-based service.

A new era for BNA ensured when it began to take advantage of the wealth of Cornell Lab assets, including images, sounds, and video from Macaulay Library, and maps and data visualizations from eBird. This deep integration has been extended in Birds of the World.

The Handbook of The Birds of the World
A 17-volume set, formerly hosted online as HBW Alive by Lynx Edicions

HBW Alive was an online comprehensive reference resource for all the birds of the world. It contains the contents of the acclaimed 17-volume Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) Series.

The print version of the HBW series was launched in 1992 and was completed in June 2013, with a total of 13,367 pages written by 277 authors from 40 different countries, c. 15 million words, 1,030 plates painted by recognized scientific illustrators from four different countries, 20,617 figures, 10,200 maps and c. 100,000 bibliographical references. The rights were transferred to Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2019.

Species accounts were enhanced by reader-contributed videos, photographs and sounds from the Internet Birding Collection. The IBC collection was transferred to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library (only for users who opted into this process) in 2019.

Neotropical Birds
Formerly hosted online by Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Neotropical Birds Online was a free, authoritative, online resource for life histories of Neotropical birds. The scope of Neotropical Birds Online included all bird species that regularly occur in the Neotropics, from Mexico and the Caribbean south to southernmost South America. The emphasis was on species that breed within this region.

Like BNA, each Neotropical Birds account was an online scientific publication. Full credit was given to the author, or collaborating team of authors, for writing the account. Though most of these accounts are now behind a Birds of the World pay wall, Cornell’s commitment to sharing this information with tropical ornithologists continues. Our International Contributor Scholarship Program provides access to this community.

Bird Families of the World: An Invitation to the Spectacular Diversity of Birds
Written by David W. Winkler, Shawn M. Billerman, Irby J. Lovette and co-published by Lynx Edicions and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Still available.

Bird Families of the World is a bold synopsis of the diversity of all birds and the first major partnership between Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Lynx Edicions. Published in 2015, between the two volumes of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, this volume distills the voluminous detail of the 17-volume Handbook of Birds of the World into a single book. Based on the latest systematic research and summarizing what is known about the life history and biology of each group, this print volume was the best available single-volume entry to avian diversity.

Birds of the World extensively updates the fascinating information within Bird Families of the World and retains it as a living volume.

Macaulay Library

A media collection hosted online by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Documenting bird behavior has been a central goal of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology since its inception. The Lab has been a key agent in adopting and promoting, and in many cases developing, new technologies for the documentation of animal behavior and natural history. The Macaulay Library is a scientific archive for research, education, and conservation, powered by amateur and professional photographers, videographers, and sound recordists all over the world. The Library contains the world’s largest collection of animal sounds as well as a rapidly growing photo and video library of animal behavior. As of its March, 2020 debut, Birds of the World had imported more than 16 million multimedia assets into its platform.

A citizen science inventory of the world’s birds and data science innovation center

eBird is the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project, with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year by eBirders around the world. A collaborative enterprise with hundreds of partner organizations, thousands of regional experts, and hundreds of thousands of users, eBird data document bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends through checklist data collected within a simple, scientific framework: birders enter when, where, and how they went birding, and then fill out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard. Scientists use these data to develop maps and other scientific outputs. At its March, 2020 debut, Birds of the World had been integrated with more than 700 million eBird observations. Here is how the data have been intertwined with its scholarly content.

Internet Bird Collection
A media collection formerly hosted online by Lynx Edicions

A sister project of HBW Alive and the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, the Internet Bird Collection (IBC) was an on-line audiovisual library of videos, photos and sound recordings of the world’s birds that was available to the general public free of charge. Its initial aim was to post at least one video, photo or sound recording of every species in the world. It followed the taxonomy presented in the Illustrated Checklist and was constantly updated by contributors. The IBC program was closed in 2019 and the donated media was imported into the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library in 2019. Total imported assets included:

Bird Adaptations

Did you ever wonder why there are so many types of bird beaks (scientists call them bills)? The most important function of a bird bill is feeding, and it is shaped according to what a bird eats. You can use the type of bill as one of the characteristics to identify birds. Here are some common bill shapes and the food they are especially adapted to eat:

Cracker Seed eaters like sparrows and cardinals have short, thick conical bills for cracking seed.
Shredder Birds of prey like hawks and owls have sharp, curved bills for tearing meat.
Chisel Woodpeckers have bills that are long and chisel-like for boring into wood to eat insects.
Probe Hummingbird bills are long and slender for probing flowers for nectar.
Strainer Some ducks have long, flat bills that strain small plants and animals from the water.
Spear Birds like herons and kingfishers have spear-like bills adapted for fishing.
Tweezer Insect eaters like warblers have thin, pointed bills.
Swiss Army Knife Crows have a multi-purpose bill that allows them to eat fruit, seeds, insects, fish, and other animals.

Another characteristic that can be used to learn more about birds is feet shapes! The shape of the feet reflects the habitat that the bird will be found in and the type of food it might eat. Here are some common feet shapes and the environment they are especially adapted to live in:

Watch the video: Κελαϊδίσματα πουλιών (August 2022).