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Birds come in all shapes and sizes but they all have certain traits in common.

  • They have feathers instead of hair or fur. They are the only animal group that has feathers.
  • They have beaks or bills and no teeth.
  • They have two feet and two wings.
  • They are warm blooded.
  • They do not have live young like mammals, but layeggs.
  • Most birds take care of their young, feeding them until they are old enough to find their own food.
  • Most birds build some kind of nest.
  • Birds have good eyesight and can see colors.
  • Most birds can fly. They have hollow bones to make their skeleton lighter for flight. They have large developed chest muscles for flight.
  • Birds can survive cold temperatures because they have an underlying layer of down feathers that act as thermal insulation, like wearing a down jacket!
  • Male birds are often (but not always) much more brightly colored than females. This is called sexual dimorphism. Females are often dull colored to blend in (camouflage) while nesting.
  • Some birds eat meat (rodents, fish, other birds or carrion). Some are seed eaters and some eat plants.
  • Many birds travel to a cooler climate for reproducing and summer feeding, and then return to a warmer climate for the winter. Moving from place to place like this is called migration.
  • Birds sing to attract a mate or mark a territory.
  • Not all birds can fly!

Flightless birds include ostrich, emus, rhea, cassowary, kiwi, penguins, and others. They all nest on the ground. Flightless birds have developed other ways of defending themselves from predators.

  • Some are fast runners.
  • Some are fast swimmers.
  • Some can kick!
  • Some live on Islands where there are no predators, so they don’t need to fly.

Can you name one famous flightless bird that became extinct because predators invaded the islands where they lived?

There are many different groups (Orders) of birds. The different orders are separated by different traits. Here are some of the orders of birds.

Orders of Birds:

  1. Accipitriformes - Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, Osprey, and Vultures
  2. Anseriformes - Waterfowl (Ducks, Geese, and Swans)
  3. Apodiformes - Swifts and Hummingirds
  4. Apterygiformes - Kiwis
  5. Caprimulgiformes - Nightjars
  6. Casuariiformes - Cassowaries and Emus
  7. Charadriformes - Sandpipers, Oystercatchers, Avocets, Plovers, Phalaropes, Stilts, Seagulls, Terns, Skuas
  8. Ciconiiformes - Herons, Egrets, Storks, Bitterns, Ibises, Spoonbills, Flamingos
  9. Coliiformes - Mousebirds
  10. Columbiformes - Doves and Pigeons
  11. Coraciiformes - Kingfishers
  12. Cuculiformes -  Cuckoos
  13. Galliformes - Gamebirds (Grouse, Quails, Pheasants and Turkeys)
  14. Gaviiformes - Divers (Loons)
  15. Gruiformes - Cranes, Bustards, Rails, Crakes, and Gallinules
  16. Passeriformes (perching birds and songbirds) - Buntings, Cardinals, Catbirds, Chats, Chickadees, Crossbills, Crows, Dippers, Finches, Flycatchers, Goldfinches, Gnatcatchers, Gnateaters, Jays, Kinglets, Larks, Magpies, Martins, Mockingbirds, Nuthatches, Ovenbirds, Pipits, Pittas, Robins, Ravens, Shrikes, Sparrows, Starlings, Swallows, Tits, Thrushes, Waxwings, Weavers, Woodcreepers, Woodwarblers, Wrens, and Vireos
  17. Pelecaniformes - Pelicans
  18. Piciformes - Woodpeckers
  19. Podicipediformes - Grebes
  20. Procellariformes - Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Storm-petrels
  21. Psittaciformes - Macaws and Parrots
  22. Pteroclidiformes - Sandgrouse
  23. Rheiformes - Rheas
  24. Sphenisciformes - Penguins
  25. Strigiformes - Owls
  26. Struthioniformes - Ostriches
  27. Tinamiformes - Tinamous
  28. Trogoniformes - Trogons





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Amsel, Sheri. "ABOUT BIRDS" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. January 29, 2023
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.