Class Aves: Warm blooded, egg laying, vertebrate animals
            High metabolic rate, four chambered heart

Warm Up Activity: Bird Bingo

Evolved from Reptiles! (150-200 million years ago)  from the theropod dinosaurs in the Jurassic period


  • Reptiles- cold blooded, lay egges
  • Birds- warm blooded, lay eggs, like reptiles extract pee as uric acid mixed with solid waste (no separate urinary bladder/openning

Activity: Adaptations Artistry

Bird Anatomy

Sight- all birds have fabulous sight- including ultraviolet vision!

Bird song- When a bird inhales, 75% of the fresh air bypasses the lungs and flows directly into a posterior air sac which extends from the lungs and connects with air spaces in the bones and fills them with air. The other 25% of the air goes directly into the lungs. When the bird exhales, the used air flows out of the lung and the stored fresh air from the posterior air sac is simultaneously forced into the lungs. Thus, a bird's lungs receive a constant supply of fresh air so it can sing when it inhales and exhales!!!

Learn bird calls! Bird Song Hero

Nests- the spot in which a bird lays and incubates its eggs and raises its young. The type of nest reflects the habitat in which the bird lives.

Bower Bird!

Bills- Birds have no teeth! Because ot this they have a special process of breaking down the food they ususally shallow hole. They have a crop for storage and a gizzard that contains swallowed stones for grinding food. Most birds can’t smell except for vultures.

How does bill shape effect what the bird eats?
Birds feed on a variety of materials, including nectar, fruit, plants, seeds, carrion, and various types of small animals including other birds.

Insectivore: Common Snipe
Nectar: Hummingbird
Carrion: Turkey Vulture
Fishing: Common Egret
Seeds: Northern Cardinal
Filter feeding: Mallard

Activity: Fill the Bill

Bird Beak Lab


       Feathers-  Hollow, Barbs, More Barbs

  • Feathers provide thermoregulation, flight, display, camouflage, and signaling for a bird
  • Need to preen daily to brush away foreign particles, apply waxy secretion from the uropygial gland, which protects feather flexibility and also acts as an anti-microbial agent, inhibiting the growth of feather-degrading bacteria. This may be supplemented with the secretions of formic acid from ants, which birds apply in a behaviour known as anting in order to remove feather parasites.

Wings- Light but strong bones. White meat on Turkey/Chickens are the flight muscles- attaches to the ribs that are flattened and the sternum is keeled for the attachment of flight muscles


Flight patterns

                        Styles of flight

A hawk or turkey vulture only flap their wings occasionally and soar on air currents
A hummingbird must flap continuously to stay aloft. They have great maneuvering ability!


Long distance annual flights- Many bird species migrate to take advantage of global differences of seasonal temperatures to optimise availability of food sources and breeding habitat. These migrations vary among the different groups. Many landbirds, shorebirds and waterbirds undertake annual long distance migrations, usually triggered by length of daylight as well as weather conditions. These are characterised by a breeding season spent in the temperate or arctic/antarctic regions, and a non-breeding season in the tropical regions or opposite hemisphere. Prior to migration, birds substantially increase body fats and reserves and reduce the size of some of their organs. Migration is highly energetically demanding, particularly as birds need to cross deserts and oceans without refuelling; landbirds have a flight range of around 2500 km and shorebirds can fly up to 4000 km, although the Bar-tailed Godwit is capable of non-stop flights of up to 10,200 km. Seabirds also undertake long migrations, the longest annual migration being those of Sooty Shearwaters, which nest in New Zealand and Chile and spend the northern summer feeding in the North Pacific off Japan, Alaska and California, an annual round trip of 64,000 km. Other seabirds disperse after breeding, travelling widely but having no set migration route. Albatrosses nesting in the Southern Ocean often undertake circumpolar trips between breeding seasons.

Birds also display other types of migration. Some species undertake shorter migrations, travelling only as far as is required to avoid bad weather or obtain food. These include irruptive species, which may be quite common some years and almost absent in others. This type of migration is normally associated with food availability. Boreal finches, arctic owls, and waxwings are most commonly identified as irruptive species.Species may also travel shorter distances over part of their range, with individuals from higher latitudes travelling into the existing range of conspecifics; others undertake partial migrations, where only a fraction of the population, usually females and subdominant males, migrates. Partial migration can form a large percentage of the migration behaviour of birds in some regions; in Australia surveys found that 44% of non-passerine birds studied were partially migratory and 32% of passerines were. Altitudinal migration is a form of short distance migration, in which birds spend the breeding season at higher altitudes elevations, and move to lower ones during suboptimal conditions. It is most often triggered by temperature changes and usually occurs when the normal territories become inhospitable also due to lack of food. Some species may also be nomadic, holding no fixed territory and moving according to weather and food availability. Parrots as a family are overwhelmingly neither migratory nor sedentary but considered to either be dispersive, irruptive, nomadic or undertake small and irregular migration.

The ability of birds to return to precise locations across vast distances has been known for some time; in an experiment conducted in the 1950s a Manx Shearwater released in Boston returned to its colony in Skomer, Wales within 13 days, a distance of 5,150 kilometres (3,200 mi). Birds navigate during migration using a variety of methods. For diurnal migrants the sun is used to navigate by, at night a stellar compass is used instead. Birds that use the sun compensate for the changing position of the sun during the day, by the use of an internal clock.] Orientation with the stellar compass depends on the position of the constellations surrounding Polaris.These are backed up in some species with the ability to sense the Earth's geomagnetism through specialised sensitive photoreceptors.

Activity: Migratory Mapping

              Indigo bunting

What kinds of hazards await a migrating bird? Activity: Great Bird Migration and Hidden Hazards

Other Cool behaviors:
            Mobbing of predators
            Cooperative hunting
            Incubate eggs

Bird of Paradise

Blue Manakin


Quiz Review Activity: Jeop-Birdy

eBird View and Explore Data


Field Trip to Harcourt Sanctuary and the Mohonk Preserve Bird Observation Lists by month.