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Bird Identification

Bird Identification


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I found this bird when I came back home. I have never seen a bird like this. Also, she is not moving even if I touch her slightly.


It's a scaly breasted munia or spotted munia (Lonchura punctulata). A relatevely common bird in captivity, probably escaped from someone cage? (check for rings)

Here a picture from the web:

Here you find more facts about it:

http://www.hbw.com/ibc/species/scaly-breasted-munia-lonchura-punctulata


It looks like a scaly-breasted wren or Carolina wren

Carolina wren

Scaly breasted wren

but i am not sure which one it is All because of your location I am looking forward to other answers too


BIRDS

Birds are a unique group of animals with an incredible ability to fly. They are unique from all other animals because they have wings and feathers. Birds are in fact descendants of dinosaurs and formal collective name for birds is ‘Aves’.

The vast majority of bird species have the ability to fly, a skill made possible through the evolution of wings, feathers and a number of other adaptations. A number of birds however, such as penguins and ostriches, have lost the ability to fly due to evolving in an environment where flying wasn’t necessary.

Birds are found all around the world, in almost any habitat, from the emperor penguins in the Antarctic to species found in some of the world’s hottest deserts. Some bird species spend their entire life in one small area while others migrate tens of thousands of miles every year.

Their color, behavior and diversity is spectacular and it is difficult to find a more impressive sight than a bird gliding effortlessly on the wind.

A feather is a growth from the skin, much like a hair, and forms the plumage of a bird. It is an integral part of a bird’s biology. Feathers have evolved over millions of years to help with tasks such as flying and keeping warm.


Birds

The most obvious characteristic that sets birds apart from other modern vertebrates is the presence of feathers, which are modified scales. While vertebrates like bats fly without feathers, birds rely on feathers and wings, along with other modifications of body structure and physiology, for flight.

Characteristics of Birds

Birds are endothermic, and because they fly, they require large amounts of energy, necessitating a high metabolic rate. Like mammals, which are also endothermic, birds have an insulating covering that keeps heat in the body: feathers. Specialized feathers called down feathers are especially insulating, trapping air in spaces between each feather to decrease the rate of heat loss. Certain parts of a bird’s body are covered in down feathers, and the base of other feathers have a downy portion, whereas newly hatched birds are covered in down.

Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, enabling the lift and thrust necessary to become airborne. The feathers on a wing are flexible, so the collective feathers move and separate as air moves through them, reducing the drag on the wing. Flight feathers are asymmetrical, which affects airflow over them and provides some of the lifting and thrusting force required for flight ([link]). Two types of flight feathers are found on the wings, primary feathers and secondary feathers. Primary feathers are located at the tip of the wing and provide thrust. Secondary feathers are located closer to the body, attach to the forearm portion of the wing and provide lift. Contour feathers are the feathers found on the body, and they help reduce drag produced by wind resistance during flight. They create a smooth, aerodynamic surface so that air moves smoothly over the bird’s body, allowing for efficient flight.

Flapping of the entire wing occurs primarily through the actions of the chest muscles, the pectoralis and the supracoracoideus. These muscles are highly developed in birds and account for a higher percentage of body mass than in most mammals. These attach to a blade-shaped keel, like that of a boat, located on the sternum. The sternum of birds is larger than that of other vertebrates, which accommodates the large muscles required to generate enough upward force to generate lift with the flapping of the wings. Another skeletal modification found in most birds is the fusion of the two clavicles (collarbones), forming the furcula or wishbone. The furcula is flexible enough to bend and provide support to the shoulder girdle during flapping.

An important requirement of flight is a low body weight. As body weight increases, the muscle output required for flying increases. The largest living bird is the ostrich, and while it is much smaller than the largest mammals, it is flightless. For birds that do fly, reduction in body weight makes flight easier. Several modifications are found in birds to reduce body weight, including pneumatization of bones. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow, rather than filled with tissue ([link]). They contain air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs, and they have struts of bone to provide structural reinforcement. Pneumatic bones are not found in all birds, and they are more extensive in large birds than in small birds. Not all bones of the skeleton are pneumatic, although the skulls of almost all birds are.

Other modifications that reduce weight include the lack of a urinary bladder. Birds possess a cloaca, a structure that allows water to be reabsorbed from waste back into the bloodstream. Uric acid is not expelled as a liquid but is concentrated into urate salts, which are expelled along with fecal matter. In this way, water is not held in the urinary bladder, which would increase body weight. Most bird species only possess one ovary rather than two, further reducing body mass.

The air sacs that extend into bones to form pneumatic bones also join with the lungs and function in respiration. Unlike mammalian lungs in which air flows in two directions, as it is breathed in and out, airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction ([link]). Air sacs allow for this unidirectional airflow, which also creates a cross-current exchange system with the blood. In a cross-current or counter-current system, the air flows in one direction and the blood flows in the opposite direction, creating a very efficient means of gas exchange.

Evolution of Birds

The evolutionary history of birds is still somewhat unclear. Due to the fragility of bird bones, they do not fossilize as well as other vertebrates. Birds are diapsids, meaning they have two fenestrations or openings in their skulls. Birds belong to a group of diapsids called the archosaurs, which also includes crocodiles and dinosaurs. It is commonly accepted that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs (including birds) are further subdivided into two groups, the Saurischia (“lizard like”) and the Ornithischia (“bird like”). Despite the names of these groups, it was not the bird-like dinosaurs that gave rise to modern birds. Rather, Saurischia diverged into two groups: One included the long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs, such as Apatosaurus. The second group, bipedal predators called theropods, includes birds. This course of evolution is suggested by similarities between theropod fossils and birds, specifically in the structure of the hip and wrist bones, as well as the presence of the wishbone, formed by the fusing of the clavicles.

One important fossil of an animal intermediate to dinosaurs and birds is Archaeopteryx, which is from the Jurassic period ([link]). Archaeopteryx is important in establishing the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, because it is an intermediate fossil, meaning it has characteristics of both dinosaurs and birds. Some scientists propose classifying it as a bird, but others prefer to classify it as a dinosaur. The fossilized skeleton of Archaeopteryx looks like that of a dinosaur, and it had teeth whereas birds do not, but it also had feathers modified for flight, a trait associated only with birds among modern animals. Fossils of older feathered dinosaurs exist, but the feathers do not have the characteristics of flight feathers.

It is still unclear exactly how flight evolved in birds. Two main theories exist, the arboreal (“tree”) hypothesis and the terrestrial (“land”) hypothesis. The arboreal hypothesis posits that tree-dwelling precursors to modern birds jumped from branch to branch using their feathers for gliding before becoming fully capable of flapping flight. In contrast to this, the terrestrial hypothesis holds that running was the stimulus for flight, as wings could be used to improve running and then became used for flapping flight. Like the question of how flight evolved, the question of how endothermy evolved in birds still is unanswered. Feathers provide insulation, but this is only beneficial if body heat is being produced internally. Similarly, internal heat production is only viable if insulation is present to retain that heat. It has been suggested that one or the other—feathers or endothermy—evolved in response to some other selective pressure.

During the Cretaceous period, a group known as the Enantiornithes was the dominant bird type ([link]). Enantiornithes means “opposite birds,” which refers to the fact that certain bones of the feet are joined differently than the way the bones are joined in modern birds. These birds formed an evolutionary line separate from modern birds, and they did not survive past the Cretaceous. Along with the Enantiornithes, Ornithurae birds (the evolutionary line that includes modern birds) were also present in the Cretaceous. After the extinction of Enantiornithes, modern birds became the dominant bird, with a large radiation occurring during the Cenozoic Era. Referred to as Neornithes (“new birds”), modern birds are now classified into two groups, the Paleognathae (“old jaw”) or ratites, a group of flightless birds including ostriches, emus, rheas, and kiwis, and the Neognathae (“new jaw”), which includes all other birds.

Veterinarian Veterinarians treat diseases, disorders, and injuries in animals, primarily vertebrates. They treat pets, livestock, and animals in zoos and laboratories. Veterinarians usually treat dogs and cats, but also treat birds, reptiles, rabbits, and other animals that are kept as pets. Veterinarians that work with farms and ranches treat pigs, goats, cows, sheep, and horses.

Veterinarians are required to complete a degree in veterinary medicine, which includes taking courses in animal physiology, anatomy, microbiology, and pathology, among many other courses. The physiology and biochemistry of different vertebrate species differ greatly.

Veterinarians are also trained to perform surgery on many different vertebrate species, which requires an understanding of the vastly different anatomies of various species. For example, the stomach of ruminants like cows has four compartments versus one compartment for non-ruminants. Birds also have unique anatomical adaptations that allow for flight.

Some veterinarians conduct research in academic settings, broadening our knowledge of animals and medical science. One area of research involves understanding the transmission of animal diseases to humans, called zoonotic diseases. For example, one area of great concern is the transmission of the avian flu virus to humans. One type of avian flu virus, H5N1, is a highly pathogenic strain that has been spreading in birds in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Although the virus does not cross over easily to humans, there have been cases of bird-to-human transmission. More research is needed to understand how this virus can cross the species barrier and how its spread can be prevented.

Section Summary

Birds are endothermic, meaning they produce their own body heat and regulate their internal temperature independently of the external temperature. Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, providing lift with secondary feathers and thrust with primary feathers. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow rather than filled with tissue, containing air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs. Airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction, creating a cross-current exchange with the blood. Birds are diapsids and belong to a group called the archosaurs. Birds are thought to have evolved from theropod dinosaurs. The oldest known fossil of a bird is that of Archaeopteryx, which is from the Jurassic period. Modern birds are now classified into two groups, Paleognathae and Neognathae.


Lab of Ornithology

The Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program uses the power of molecular genomics to explore the earth’s biodiversity and the processes that generate it. The program trains students, postdocs, and other young professionals, spurring their research on how speciation works and how animals are related to one another.

“We want to know why and how diversity is created,” says Irby Lovette, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the program. “The common theme across all our work is that we use genomic tools to explore behavior and evolution of animals out in the wild.”

The Fuller Program hosts many visiting scholars from around the world including Latin America, Europe, Israel, and Turkey. Visitors and students use the Biotechnology Resource Center, which is available to all researchers at Cornell.

Program staff and postdocs also teach evolution courses on campus, lead field courses in Patagonia and the Galápagos, and host smaller seminars to introduce students to birds, research, and opportunities at the lab.

The Linda R. and William E. Macaulay Library houses the world’s largest collection of biodiversity media. The archive includes more than two million sound recordings, videos, and still images.

Much of the audio collection focuses on bird sounds, including some of species now extinct, but many other taxonomies are represented, including whales, insects, amphibians, mammals, and fish. The entire sound collection has been digitized and is freely available to researchers—or to anyone who enjoys listening to wild voices.

Researchers and recordists who contribute their work have long been the bedrock of the collection. The library offers a yearly recording workshop to give researchers and amateur recordists hands-on experience in the field, using the latest sound equipment and techniques. This workshop, along with equipment loans and expert advice, supports research and brings new recordings into the archive, each providing valuable insight into the natural world.

The Bioacoustic Research Program studies the sounds of wildlife and creates some of the high-tech tools needed to collect these sounds, 24/7.

Researchers use land-based units and marine autonomous recording units (photo) to record diverse species, including birds, whales, and forest elephants.

The team also engineered acoustic buoys that communicate with cell towers to notify researchers when a target sound is detected. Buoys detect endangered North Atlantic right whales so that nearby ships can be alerted to reduce speed in order to prevent a deadly collision. Researchers also use underwater recording devices to understand how human-generated noise affects the ability of marine mammals to communicate.

To analyze vast amounts of acoustic data, the lab’s engineers create auto-detection and classification software, using machine-learning techniques. They also created RAVEN software, which has been used in research and resulted in more than 600 publications. The team offers Sound Analysis Workshops for researchers from around the world, teaching them how to monitor and study wildlife using sound.

The lab’s Information Science program taps into data-intensive science to reveal key insights and trends. By combining large data sets of bird distribution and abundance with satellite information about vegetation, weather, and other environmental data, researchers learn about biological patterns and changes on a broad geographical scale.

Bird watchers around the world generate the crucial data behind eBird at the rate of 7.5 million observations on average each month. These data are available for researchers anywhere to use. The lab’s scientists use this data to create models that predict movements and abundance of bird species during their entire annual life cycles.

The data from eBird has been used in dozens of scientific research papers. Scientists have used the data to shape conservation efforts requiring accurate migration timing and location information monitor declining species and assess the impact of environmental crises such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Bird Population Studies researchers investigate how birds respond to natural forces such as disease and competition between species. They also investigate the impact of human-caused changes, including acid rain and fragmentation of habitats by development. These factors can affect every aspect of a bird’s life—from migration timing and choice of territory to nesting success and foraging for food.

A major emphasis of the work is research into the rise of eye disease in house finches.

“After participants in the lab’s Project FeederWatch first reported sick house finches in 1993,” says André Dhondt, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the program’s director, “we have been able to document the emergence and epidemic spread of a new wildlife disease at a level of detail never achieved before.”

The research combines field and experimental studies as well as collaborations with statistical and computer scientists to delve deeper into the lives of birds, using data from the lab’s citizen-science projects.

The Lab of Ornithology’s educators produce a wealth of material to help students, teachers, and bird watchers explore the complex and fascinating lives of birds.

The BirdSleuth K-12 curriculum engages children across the Americas in scientific inquiry involving birds. Lifelong learners tackle the lab’s university-level, self-paced course in bird biology, explore the interactive Bird Academy website, and attend webinars and tutorials on everything from waterfowl identification to birding techniques.

The All About Birds website reaches 14 million people each year and the Merlin Bird ID app has been downloaded more than one million times. Live Bird Cams create deep connections to nature by opening a window on the private lives of red-tailed hawks, owls, California condors, and other fascinating birds. The lab also produces the Birds of North America, a definitive reference.

The Visitor Center welcomes more than 60,000 visitors each year who come to learn about birds and how they can get involved.

Citizen-science participants from around the world help researchers investigate changes in bird populations across temporal and geographic scales, which is only possible with the help of thousands of observers.

NestWatch participants help scientists track breeding success. Project FeederWatch participants help reveal changes in the movements and abundance of feeder birds in winter. Celebrate Urban Birds seeks information about birds in cities and how they use green spaces. The annual four-day Great Backyard Bird Count collects data from around the world to create a snapshot of bird numbers and distribution. Each of these projects makes it possible to detect significant changes over time.

Citizen science is also a learning tool. Habitat Network helps participants map their lands, make them bird- and wildlife-friendly, and connect to others with the same goals. Public Engagement in Science researchers explore what motivates people to participate in science and take action for birds and the environment.

Conservation Science researchers work on many fronts to protect birds and habitats across the Western Hemisphere. The goal is to use the best science to inform conservation policies that address the most critical threats to birds and biodiversity.

Research topics include investigating how shade-grown coffee plantations benefit North American birds that spend winters in South America. Other research explores the impact of habitat loss, the logistics of seasonal migrations, and the cause of species declines among birds, such as the hermit thrush, cerulean warbler, and grassland birds.

Partnerships are key. Conservation science staff participate in generating State of the Birds reports for the federal government produce land manager guides that offer best practices for conservation provide bird conservation resources in partnership with land trusts and work with international partners in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean to build in-country capacity for bird monitoring, research, and conservation planning.

The Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program uses the power of molecular genomics to explore the earth’s biodiversity and the processes that generate it. The program trains students, postdocs, and other young professionals, spurring their research on how speciation works and how animals are related to one another.

“We want to know why and how diversity is created,” says Irby Lovette, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the program. “The common theme across all our work is that we use genomic tools to explore behavior and evolution of animals out in the wild.”

The Fuller Program hosts many visiting scholars from around the world including Latin America, Europe, Israel, and Turkey. Visitors and students use the Biotechnology Resource Center, which is available to all researchers at Cornell.

Program staff and postdocs also teach evolution courses on campus, lead field courses in Patagonia and the Galápagos, and host smaller seminars to introduce students to birds, research, and opportunities at the lab.

The Linda R. and William E. Macaulay Library houses the world’s largest collection of biodiversity media. The archive includes more than two million sound recordings, videos, and still images.

Much of the audio collection focuses on bird sounds, including some of species now extinct, but many other taxonomies are represented, including whales, insects, amphibians, mammals, and fish. The entire sound collection has been digitized and is freely available to researchers—or to anyone who enjoys listening to wild voices.

Researchers and recordists who contribute their work have long been the bedrock of the collection. The library offers a yearly recording workshop to give researchers and amateur recordists hands-on experience in the field, using the latest sound equipment and techniques. This workshop, along with equipment loans and expert advice, supports research and brings new recordings into the archive, each providing valuable insight into the natural world.

The Bioacoustic Research Program studies the sounds of wildlife and creates some of the high-tech tools needed to collect these sounds, 24/7.

Researchers use land-based units and marine autonomous recording units (photo) to record diverse species, including birds, whales, and forest elephants.

The team also engineered acoustic buoys that communicate with cell towers to notify researchers when a target sound is detected. Buoys detect endangered North Atlantic right whales so that nearby ships can be alerted to reduce speed in order to prevent a deadly collision. Researchers also use underwater recording devices to understand how human-generated noise affects the ability of marine mammals to communicate.

To analyze vast amounts of acoustic data, the lab’s engineers create auto-detection and classification software, using machine-learning techniques. They also created RAVEN software, which has been used in research and resulted in more than 600 publications. The team offers Sound Analysis Workshops for researchers from around the world, teaching them how to monitor and study wildlife using sound.

The lab’s Information Science program taps into data-intensive science to reveal key insights and trends. By combining large data sets of bird distribution and abundance with satellite information about vegetation, weather, and other environmental data, researchers learn about biological patterns and changes on a broad geographical scale.

Bird watchers around the world generate the crucial data behind eBird at the rate of 7.5 million observations on average each month. These data are available for researchers anywhere to use. The lab’s scientists use this data to create models that predict movements and abundance of bird species during their entire annual life cycles.

The data from eBird has been used in dozens of scientific research papers. Scientists have used the data to shape conservation efforts requiring accurate migration timing and location information monitor declining species and assess the impact of environmental crises such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Bird Population Studies researchers investigate how birds respond to natural forces such as disease and competition between species. They also investigate the impact of human-caused changes, including acid rain and fragmentation of habitats by development. These factors can affect every aspect of a bird’s life—from migration timing and choice of territory to nesting success and foraging for food.

A major emphasis of the work is research into the rise of eye disease in house finches.

“After participants in the lab’s Project FeederWatch first reported sick house finches in 1993,” says André Dhondt, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the program’s director, “we have been able to document the emergence and epidemic spread of a new wildlife disease at a level of detail never achieved before.”

The research combines field and experimental studies as well as collaborations with statistical and computer scientists to delve deeper into the lives of birds, using data from the lab’s citizen-science projects.

The Lab of Ornithology’s educators produce a wealth of material to help students, teachers, and bird watchers explore the complex and fascinating lives of birds.

The BirdSleuth K-12 curriculum engages children across the Americas in scientific inquiry involving birds. Lifelong learners tackle the lab’s university-level, self-paced course in bird biology, explore the interactive Bird Academy website, and attend webinars and tutorials on everything from waterfowl identification to birding techniques.

The All About Birds website reaches 14 million people each year and the Merlin Bird ID app has been downloaded more than one million times. Live Bird Cams create deep connections to nature by opening a window on the private lives of red-tailed hawks, owls, California condors, and other fascinating birds. The lab also produces the Birds of North America, a definitive reference.

The Visitor Center welcomes more than 60,000 visitors each year who come to learn about birds and how they can get involved.

Citizen-science participants from around the world help researchers investigate changes in bird populations across temporal and geographic scales, which is only possible with the help of thousands of observers.

NestWatch participants help scientists track breeding success. Project FeederWatch participants help reveal changes in the movements and abundance of feeder birds in winter. Celebrate Urban Birds seeks information about birds in cities and how they use green spaces. The annual four-day Great Backyard Bird Count collects data from around the world to create a snapshot of bird numbers and distribution. Each of these projects makes it possible to detect significant changes over time.

Citizen science is also a learning tool. Habitat Network helps participants map their lands, make them bird- and wildlife-friendly, and connect to others with the same goals. Public Engagement in Science researchers explore what motivates people to participate in science and take action for birds and the environment.

Conservation Science researchers work on many fronts to protect birds and habitats across the Western Hemisphere. The goal is to use the best science to inform conservation policies that address the most critical threats to birds and biodiversity.

Research topics include investigating how shade-grown coffee plantations benefit North American birds that spend winters in South America. Other research explores the impact of habitat loss, the logistics of seasonal migrations, and the cause of species declines among birds, such as the hermit thrush, cerulean warbler, and grassland birds.

Partnerships are key. Conservation science staff participate in generating State of the Birds reports for the federal government produce land manager guides that offer best practices for conservation provide bird conservation resources in partnership with land trusts and work with international partners in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean to build in-country capacity for bird monitoring, research, and conservation planning.

Researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are passionate about studying birds and biodiversity and advancing conservation. Their mission encompasses fieldwork, laboratory research, data-intensive science, student training, and globally renowned citizen-science and lifelong learning programs. Researchers at the Lab of Ornithology study not only birds but also marine mammals, forest elephants, and other wildlife. They partner with government agencies, nonprofits, industries, and communities around the world, providing critically needed tools, techniques, and data for research and conservation.

Founded in 1915, the Lab of Ornithology today is a thriving hub for research and outreach, with more than 200 staff, scientists, and students. Supported in part by more than 100,000 donors, the lab is in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with its home base a few miles from campus in the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity. More than 60,000 visitors each year come from around the world to walk the Sapsucker Woods trails, take guided tours, and explore the lab’s exhibits.

Technological innovation has been a hallmark of the Lab of Ornithology ever since its founder, Arthur “Doc” Allen, and colleagues helped capture the first sound recordings of wild North American birds in 1929. Today, the Linda R. and William E. Macaulay Library here houses the world’s largest collection of natural sounds and videos, with free digital access to researchers and the public. The lab also develops advanced technologies for automated wildlife sound recording and analysis.

Another feature of the lab is its longstanding partnership between scientists and bird watchers through a suite of citizen-science projects. With more than 330 million observation on birds from around the world, the eBird project yields new insights and data-intensive visualizations on the distribution and abundance of birds and the effects of environmental change.

“Any person, any study” at the Lab of Ornithology extends from higher education to its K-12 BirdSleuth curriculum and lifelong learning opportunities reaching more than 14 million people annually. The lab is a center for biodiversity training with some 70 undergraduates, 30 graduate students, and 15 postdoctoral fellows engaged in research. The biological sciences intersect here with engineering, computer science, social sciences, economics, art, communications, and other disciplines to reveal a greater understanding of biodiversity and a greater impact for conservation.


Birds of Ohio

1. Northern Cardinal (State Bird of Ohio)

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Passeriformes Cardinalidae Cardinalis Cardinalis cardinalis

This bird is one of the most beloved birds in America, and also one of the most recognizable.

  • The Northern Cardinal is about the size of a robin or slightly more prominent. This bird has a typically short and large bill, a crest on the head, and a long tail.
  • Male cardinals are memorable – they are bright red with a triangular crest.
  • The only spot of other colors is the black mask around the bill. The females of the species are a pale brown with reddish tinges on the tail, wings, and chest.
  • The bill of the female cardinals is orange with a mix of red.
  • The cardinal also has a typical posture – it sits as if it is hunched over, and the tail is pointed down.

Northern cardinals can be spotted all around Ohio around forested areas or evergreen trees in winter.

Interesting Facts about Northern Cardinals

  • The Northern cardinal is a state bird of Ohio.
  • The cardinal is a songbird. Its calls are short and metallic.
  • A northern cardinal prefers to nest in tangled shrubs and bushes.
  • These red birds of Ohio can charge into glass windows, thinking their reflection an “enemy bird“.
  • The cardinals can raise two broods a year.

Suggested Reading:

What Do Cardinals Eat?

2. Chestnut-sided warbler

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Passeriformes Parulidae Setophaga Setophaga pensylvanica

Chestnut-Sided Warbler (Source: Wikimedia) This next Ohio bird is a small, stocky warbler with an unusual color pattern, a stout bill, and a long tail.
  • Male chestnut-sided warblers have a yellow crown, a black mask around the bill, and white cheeks.
  • The wings of this warbler are chestnut-colored with stripes, similar to in pattern to a common sparrow.
  • The female birds do not have a black mask and are less brightly colored.

One of the best places to find this warbler is at the Ohio “warbler Mecca” – Magee Marsh.

Interesting Facts about Chestnut-sided Warblers

  • These birds of Ohio often crash with glass and communication towers during migrations
  • The chestnut-sided warbler is relatively rare because it needs young shrubs for nesting. Such shrubs usually grow after forest fires, logging, or heavy storms.
  • The male warbler has two types of songs: one is sung during the breeding season, and another closer to nesting.
  • These birds mainly eat insects that reside on the underside of leaves.
  • Several warblers make a “bouquet” or a “confusion” of warblers.

3. Bobolink

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Passeriformes Icteridae Dolichonyx Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Bobolink is a very striking grassland Ohio bird.

  • The coloring of the male bobolinks is quite memorable: the overall body is black, with a white hood and rump.
  • The females are yellow-brown with stripes. The underparts of the female bobolink are buff-colored.
  • This bird is migratory, spending the breeding season in Ohio, as well as other northern United States and southern Canada.
  • Bobolinks migrate to Central and South America for the winter.

Bobolinks are considered to be a species of concern in Ohio. One of the most significant nesting areas for this bird is located in South Russell Park, Geauga County, Ohio.

Interesting Facts about Bobolinks

  • Bobolinks are sometimes referred to as “skunk birds“.
  • The male bobolinks molt before the winter migration, acquiring brown and yellow coloring similar to females.
  • These migratory birds of Ohio are primarily insectivorous, yet can be seen feeding on rice fields.
  • Bobolinks form “harems“: each male may have up to 4 females nesting on their territory..
  • The name “bobolink” reflects its bubbling-like songs.

4. Summer tanager

This bird of Ohio is the most widespread tanager in the US. A summer tanager is brightly colored and small in size.

  • The bill of this bird is short and blunt. The male tanagers have a strawberry red plumage.
  • There may be black tips on the primary wing feathers, and a touch of gray on wingtips and tail tips.
  • The females of this species are colored differently: yellow with a pinkish bill.
  • Immature males have a mix of yellow and red in their coloring. Both sexes have a slightly raised crest on the head.

Tanagers prefer to stay at the edge of open mixed forests. In Ohio, one of the sites where this bird was spotted in the Oak Openings Metropark, Toledo Area.

Summer tanagers were seen in this region for several summers in a row.

Interesting Facts about Summer Tanagers

  • Summer tanagers can sit still on branches for long periods.
  • There are two subspecies: the eastern subspecies that are smaller in size, and the western subspecies that is bigger, with a paler coloring.
  • A summer tanager is a songbird, with a variety of songs used in flight and communication.
  • Summer tanagers are solitary and form pairs only during the breeding season.
  • Summer tanagers can eat stinging insects, such as bees and wasps.

5. American woodcock

American Woodcock (Source: flickr.com) An American woodcock is a shorebird of Ohio.
  • This woodcock is small, with a short neck and short legs. The wings of the American woodcock are broad and rounded.
  • American woodcocks have an outstanding long, thin bill. The coloring of the upper parts in this bird is mottled brown and russet.
  • The underparts are cinnamon-colored. There is also a grey color around the throat.

Delaware Bay is one of the best locations to meet this unique shorebird.

Interesting Facts about American Woodcocks

  • The American woodcock has a lot of folk names, such as timberdoodle or night partridge.
  • American woodcocks tend to rock back and forth when walking
  • American woodcocks have their specific display for attracting female birds that they perform on summer nights.
  • The cerebellum of the American woodcock is located under the rest of the brain, while in other birds it is located at the rear of the skull
  • The main dish on the American woodcock’s menu is the earthworm.

6. Swamp sparrow

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Passeriformes Emberizidae Melospiza Melospiza georgiana

This bird of Ohio is a species of sparrow that prefers to live in wetlands.

  • A swamp sparrow is medium-sized and has a rounded tail.
  • The face of the swamp sparrow is grey, and there is a rusty brown cap on the head.
  • There is a black stripe near the eye. The back and wings of the swamp sparrow are reddish-brown with black stripes.
  • The chest of the swamp sparrow is brown washed with grey. The bill of the swamp sparrow is conical, yellow at the base.
  • These sparrows have unusually long legs, which is uncommon among sparrows.

If you want to see a swamp sparrow for yourself, some of the right spots to do so are Pickerington Ponds and Lake Erie Bluffs.

Interesting Facts about Swamp Sparrows

  • Swamp sparrows search for food near the water’s edge.
  • Swamp sparrows are migratory and can be seen in parks and weedy fields during their travels.
  • Swamp sparrows can catch small invertebrates underwater.
  • When disturbed, a swamp sparrow would run, like a mouse, instead of flying away.
  • Their nests are often built near water and can be destroyed during flooding.

7. ‘Annas hummingbird

This Ohio hummingbird is not seen as frequently in some regions of the United States compared to the rufous hummingbird and ruby-chested hummingbird.

  • It is stockier than most hummingbirds and has a long, straight black bill.
  • Adult males of the species have a rose-colored throat and crown, the lower body is iridescent grey and may look green dependent on lighting.
  • Females are also green, but their feathers have different shades: the upper parts have metallic green plumage, while the lower parts are grayish-green.
  • Females also may have longer billed than males.
  • The tail of this hummingbird is broad, which is also unusual in this group of birds.

Anna’s hummingbirds can often be spotted around feeders across the country. In Ohio, they are reported to be seen around Miami County.

Interesting Facts about Anna’s Hummingbirds

  • Anna’s hummingbirds often come to parks and yards to feed.
  • For the last two decades, Anna’s hummingbirds tend to winter in the United States instead of going to Mexico and Central America.
  • Anna’s hummingbird is one of the only two native species that can feed on blue eucalyptus flowers.
  • These hummingbirds are highly territorial and actively defend their food sources (hummingbird feeders, for example).
  • Anna’s hummingbirds depend on feeders with sucrose in winter, so it is good to hang multiple feeders in the areas where they are spotted.

8. Northern Harrier

This next bird is a medium-sized raptor from Ohio with a slender build and broad wings.

  • Both wings and tail of the northern harrier are long. The tail of the northern harrier has a characteristic white patch on its rump.
  • Male and female birds have different coloring. Adult males are grey with stripes and black tips on the wings.
  • The immature male birds, as well as females, are brown above and pale cream below.
  • During the flight, it makes a “V shape” with its wings. The face of the northern harrier may resemble that of an owl at a certain angle.

Northern Harriers can be spotted in Northeastern Ohio some sightings were also reported in Pickaway Plains in Central Ohio.

Interesting Facts about Northern Harriers

  • This bid is the only species of harriers in North America.
  • This raptor is slowly disappearing from its previous nesting areas.
  • The male northern harriers help out the female birds with feeding the young.
  • Northern harriers often nest in colonies, and one male may have two or more females.
  • Northern harriers make their nests on the ground, often in marshland.

9. Indigo bunting

An indigo bunting is a small and memorable songbird of Ohio.

  • This bird of Ohio is stocky, with a short, conical bill, and small head crest. Dependent on lighting, the feathers of male indigo buntings look entirely blue.
  • The females and immature males are various shades of brown – darker on the back and wings, and light brown with specks on the chest.
  • Some immature males may have blue patches among brown feathers. Indigo buntings have their lively song with high pitched notes.

If you want to search for a glimpse of this beautiful bird, please note that there were confirmed sightings of the indigo buntings at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Interesting Facts about Indigo Buntings

  • The feathers of the male indigo bunting are iridescent: in bright sunlight, they look blue, while in different lighting, the birds would look completely black.
  • Indigo bunting males like to sing while perching on branches or telephone lines and swish their tails.
  • Indigo buntings are solitary birds and form flocks only during migrations.
  • Indigo buntings can be found in places where woods meet open areas or at the roadside.
  • Indigo buntings were used in an experiment that has shown that the birds use multiple stars to orient themselves during migrations from Central America to North America.

10. Pied-billed Grebe

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Podicipediformes Podicipedidae Podilymbus Podilymbus podiceps

Pied-Billed Grebe (Source: fr.wikipedia.org) The next bird of Ohio is a small waterbird with a chunky body.
  • The bill is short and thick. During the breeding season, the bill of this species gets a distinct black stripe.
  • The head of the pied-billed grebe is broad and roundish. These grebes have almost no tail.
  • Juvenile piled-billed grebes can be recognized by striped faces. These birds have an overall brown coloring that may get darker during the breeding season.
  • The pied-billed grebe has lobed feet, unlike ducks that have webbed feet.

Pied-billed grebes mainly breed and feed in wetlands, including marshlands around the Lake Erie area.

Interesting Facts about Pied-billed Grebes

  • The stripe on the bill appears only during the breeding season. At other times it is absent. The breeding birds also acquire a black-colored throat temporarily.
  • These Ohio waterbirds can be loud and make different kinds of noises during breeding season: toots, barks, and grunts.
  • The pied-billed grebes can submerge fully underwater and even swim underwater in order to escape danger.
  • The pied-billed grebes can change their buoyancy with the help of the head movements.
  • Half of the stomach contents of this grebe consists of its feathers – they protect the intestine from sharp and uneatable objects.

11. Yellow-billed cuckoo

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (Source: flickr.com) This next bird is a relatively large bird of Ohio, between a robin and a crow.
  • These large birds of Ohio have long, slim bodies. The bill of this cuckoo is almost as long as the head, with a slight down curve.
  • The lower part of the bill is yellow. The head is flat. Overall, coloring is brown, with rusty patches on the wings.
  • The chest is grayish or white. The underside of the long tail has multiple white patches.
  • The yellow-billed cuckoo has a blackish mask around the bill and the yellow eyering.

According to recent surveys, yellow-billed cuckoos can be predominantly spotted in the Till Plain, Unglaciated Plateau, and Illinoian Till Plain regions in Ohio.

Interesting Facts about Yellow-billed Cuckoos

  • The yellow-billed cuckoo likes to hunt for large, hairy caterpillars.
  • The populations of this species are in decline, especially in the Western United States, and are limited to cottonwood forests.
  • The yellow-billed cuckoos are known to migrate over the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The yellow-billed cuckoos are essential in fighting outbreaks of tent caterpillars.
  • This species of cuckoo can raise their own young, but can also put their eggs into the nests of 11 other bird species.

12. Sora

Sora Bird (Source: Wikimedia) Otherwise known as a sora rail or sora crake, this is a small brown water bird of Ohio with long legs and long toes.
  • This Ohio bird is rarely seen and mainly lives in freshwater marshes.
  • It has a plump body and a short, bright yellow bill.
  • The upperparts are mottled brown.
  • The face and chest are greys.
  • There is a black mask around the bill. The tail of the sora is very short.

Sora birds can be spotted around Lake St. Clair, including St. Clair Flats.

Interesting Facts about Sora Birds

  • The nests of the sora are made of marsh vegetation and look like cups.
  • The sora birds can eat both plant and animal food.
  • The sora has a loud call that can be often heard at dawn.
  • Despite looking like weak fliers, the soras are capable of long-distance migrations.
  • The sora rail may be seen around rice fields, may feed heavily on wild rice in anticipation of the migration period.

13. Common Grackle

The common grackle is the largest blackbird in Ohio.

  • It is a bit larger than a common blackbird and has glossy iridescent feathers with a metallic sheen.
  • The head of the common grackle is purple and the body bronze.
  • The grackle has a stout, broad bill, and a spoon-shaped tail.
  • The females have paler coloring and also possess yellowish eyes.

Common Grackles tend to nest near humans and were noted to be shared in several counties, including Hocking, Athens, and Washington Counties.

Interesting Facts about Common Grackles

  • The common grackle often forms flocks together with cowbirds and blackbirds.
  • This bird is widespread, and the only area it is not found in the dense forest.
  • There were cases of full and partial albinism recorded among these birds.
  • The grackles attack any intruders together with their neighbors and can be quite vicious while defending a nest.
  • Parts of the grackle’s bills are hard and are used primarily for cracking acorns.

14. American redstart

The next Ohio birds on our list is an American redstart. It is a warbler of medium size with a flat, broad bill.

  • It has a roundish body with a long tail.
  • Males are mostly black with bright patches of orange color on the wings, tail, and sides.
  • The females have an olive back and yellow patches in the same areas as males.
  • The head of the female American redstart is grey, and the chest is whitish.

American redstarts can be seen in Headland Beach State Park during the migration season.

Interesting Facts about American Redstarts

  • American redstarts are very active birds and seem to be always moving and catching insects
  • American redstarts have their song that consists of a series of high notes.
  • During courtship, the male proposes the potential female sites for nests, and the female chooses the male that selects the best area.
  • American redstarts use their wings and tail to flush insects living in the trees.
  • Parasitic cowbirds, as well as raptors such as hawks, pose a considerable threat to these birds.

15. Eastern screech owl

This owl species is stocky and small made into our top birds of Ohio list.

  • It has a large head with an almost invisible neck.
  • The coloring is varied and can be either gray or rusty/reddish brown.
  • These birds have a typical camouflage pattern. The eastern screech owls have yellow eyes.
  • There are short, prominent ear-tufts. These owls have grey-green bills.

Eastern screech-owls can be found in the Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve, Central Ohio.

Interesting Facts about Eastern Screech owls

  • In case of a threat, the eastern screech owl stretches its body and tightens its feathers in order to look like a branch.
  • There are two morphs in these species: grey-phase and red-phase birds.
  • These owls have a distinct whistling call and often respond to imitations.
  • Eastern screech owls can use nest boxes for ducks if they cannot find a suitable tree cavity.
  • The younger screech owls can be killed by larger owl species.

Many Ohio birds are quite shy and are rarely seen – but that does not mean that they are not crucial for the ecosystems they call home.

Habitat destruction, hunting cats, and overall human activity has much impact on their lives and the lives of all the living beings connected to them.

Hanging hummingbird feeders, building nest boxes, as well as keeping your cats at home can be of great help to many migrating and small species.


Ensuring Data Quality

High data quality is critical for achieving scientific goals and for engaging users. Our approach to data quality is to develop tools that allow experts to develop regional filters that identify outlier records. Editors establish a maximum number of individuals that may be entered for every species and each month for a given region. These outliers are the same kind of records that amateur and professional ornithologists have focused on in keeping regional records of bird occurrence. The tools in eBird provide an easy way for our regional editors to isolate and follow-up on unusual records with the original observers. These volunteers provide an enormous service to eBird, as their expertise greatly improves the quality of eBird data. To date, our network of over 450 regional experts has reviewed more than 3.5 million records.


Characteristics of Birds

Birds are endothermic, and because they fly, they require large amounts of energy, necessitating a high metabolic rate. Like mammals, which are also endothermic, birds have an insulating covering that keeps heat in the body: feathers. Specialized feathers called down feathers are especially insulating, trapping air in spaces between each feather to decrease the rate of heat loss. Certain parts of a bird’s body are covered in down feathers, and the base of other feathers have a downy portion, whereas newly hatched birds are covered in down.

Figure 1. Primary feathers are located at the wing tip and provide thrust secondary feathers are located close to the body and provide lift.

Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, enabling the lift and thrust necessary to become airborne. The feathers on a wing are flexible, so the collective feathers move and separate as air moves through them, reducing the drag on the wing. Flight feathers are asymmetrical, which affects airflow over them and provides some of the lifting and thrusting force required for flight (Figure 1). Two types of flight feathers are found on the wings, primary feathers and secondary feathers. Primary feathers are located at the tip of the wing and provide thrust. Secondary feathers are located closer to the body, attach to the forearm portion of the wing and provide lift. Contour feathers are the feathers found on the body, and they help reduce drag produced by wind resistance during flight. They create a smooth, aerodynamic surface so that air moves smoothly over the bird’s body, allowing for efficient flight.

Flapping of the entire wing occurs primarily through the actions of the chest muscles, the pectoralis and the supracoracoideus. These muscles are highly developed in birds and account for a higher percentage of body mass than in most mammals. These attach to a blade-shaped keel, like that of a boat, located on the sternum. The sternum of birds is larger than that of other vertebrates, which accommodates the large muscles required to generate enough upward force to generate lift with the flapping of the wings. Another skeletal modification found in most birds is the fusion of the two clavicles (collarbones), forming the furcula or wishbone. The furcula is flexible enough to bend and provide support to the shoulder girdle during flapping.

An important requirement of flight is a low body weight. As body weight increases, the muscle output required for flying increases. The largest living bird is the ostrich, and while it is much smaller than the largest mammals, it is flightless. For birds that do fly, reduction in body weight makes flight easier. Several modifications are found in birds to reduce body weight, including pneumatization of bones. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow, rather than filled with tissue (Figure 2). They contain air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs, and they have struts of bone to provide structural reinforcement. Pneumatic bones are not found in all birds, and they are more extensive in large birds than in small birds. Not all bones of the skeleton are pneumatic, although the skulls of almost all birds are.

Figure 2. Many birds have hollow, pneumatic bones, which make flight easier.

Other modifications that reduce weight include the lack of a urinary bladder. Birds possess a cloaca, a structure that allows water to be reabsorbed from waste back into the bloodstream. Uric acid is not expelled as a liquid but is concentrated into urate salts, which are expelled along with fecal matter. In this way, water is not held in the urinary bladder, which would increase body weight. Most bird species only possess one ovary rather than two, further reducing body mass.

The air sacs that extend into bones to form pneumatic bones also join with the lungs and function in respiration. Unlike mammalian lungs in which air flows in two directions, as it is breathed in and out, airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction (Figure 3). Air sacs allow for this unidirectional airflow, which also creates a cross-current exchange system with the blood. In a cross-current or counter-current system, the air flows in one direction and the blood flows in the opposite direction, creating a very efficient means of gas exchange.

Figure 3. Avian respiration is an efficient system of gas exchange with air flowing unidirectionally. During inhalation, air passes from the trachea into posterior air sacs, then through the lungs to anterior air sacs. The air sacs are connected to the hollow interior of bones. During exhalation, air from air sacs passes into the lungs and out the trachea. (credit: modification of work by L. Shyamal)


Research Biology: Found: New Bird Species

A Princeton researcher has something to tweet about: He and his collaborators have identified a new bird species, the Sulawesi streaked flycatcher (Muscicapa sodhii).

Researchers estimate that 98 percent of the world’s bird species have been discovered, says J. Berton C. Harris, a postdoctoral fellow in the Woodrow Wilson School’s Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. He is a co-author, with researchers from Michigan State University and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, of a November PLOS One report on the discovery. “Finding a new species is quite rare,” Harris says.

Distinguished by its mottled throat and short wings, the bird first was found in 1997 in the forested lowlands on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The bird’s distinctive plumage, body structure, song, and genetics are markedly different than those of other flycatchers, proving it is a new species. It has survived in an area degraded by cacao plantations and currently is not at risk for extinction, according to the researchers.

The Latin name the team gave the bird pays homage to the late ecologist and ornithologist Navjot Sodhi, who was Harris’ mentor and a professor at the National University of Singapore.

“The discovery of this previously unknown bird demonstrates once again how much we have yet to learn about the biodiversity of this planet and, especially, the biodiversity of the tropics,” says David Wilcove, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.


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:

SHAPE TYPE ADAPTATION
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:


Bird Identification - Biology

A rtists throughout history have drawn inspiration from the birds. Part-bird, part-human forms have frequently been used to depict either supernatural phenomena or enhanced human abilities, especially those of vision (bird heads) and speed (bird wings). Perhaps the oldest artistic representation of birds or parts of birds is a prehistoric bird-headed man dating from 15,000 to 10,000 B.C. It is painted on one of the walls of the Lascaux Cave in France -- the often-described treasure-house of Stone Age art.

Ancient Egyptians considered birds "winged souls" they occasionally used them to symbolize particular gods. The symbol for Horus, the god of the sun (and the local god of the Upper Nile), was the head or body of a falcon. In a statue of King Chefren from Giza on his throne (c. 2500 B.C.), the king is not seated alone -- the falcon of Horus is perched behind his head, and its wings enfold the king's shoulders. The bird appears to be watching over the king and his realm. Raptors subsequently have often been used to represent national power -- right down to the national symbol of the United States. (The founding fathers, we would like to think, did not recognize the Bald Eagle's habit of scavenging dead fish and feeding at dumps.) Whereas predatory birds are often used in art to symbolize power, doves (frequent prey to raptors) often depict peace.

Symbolic winged chimeras like Pegasus, the flying horse, are recurrent. The power of the sphinx, indicated by the merging of a human head onto a lion's body, is sometimes augmented by the wings of a bird. If the Great Sphinx had wings, they are long gone, but those of the winged Sphinx of Naxos (500 B.C.) remain resplendent. Both victory and liberty continue to be associated with bird wings. They are, for example, the outstanding feature of the renowned Hellenistic marble sculpture the "Winged Victory" of Samothrace (200 B.C.). That partly airborne goddess, in turn, became the prototype for countless modem political paintings and cartoons.

Goldfinches, which appear commonly in illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages, were associated with the Christ child. In southern Italy and Sicily goldfinches were commonly released at the time a figure representing the risen Christ appeared at Easter celebrations. Could the predilection of goldfinches for prickly thistles have recalled the crown of thorns and thus led to their association with Christ? During the Renaissance most paintings were religious and bird-winged angels were common. It would seem that the countless depictions of the Annunciation differ most in the use of wings from different bird species.

Native Americans living on the northwest coast of our continent were consummate bird artists. They used stylized depictions of ravens (which were considered gods and played a central role in their religion), eagles, and oystercatchers, etc., in carved masks and rattles as well as on painted screens, drums, and boxes. While the symbolic use of birds (and parts of their anatomy) is ancient, depictions of bird biology are by no means a modem invention. For instance, a stylized tick bird picking parasites from the back of a bull is painted on a piece of pottery dating to the late Mycenaean, more than a thousand years before Christ, and an early English book contains a picture of an owl being mobbed.

The realistic depiction of birds in nature become increasingly evident in 18th-century Western and Eastern paintings, but illustrating bird biology was not elevated to its current position as an art form until the work of John James Audubon in the early 1800s. Audubon was among the first artists to accurately portray bird biology and certainly the first to consistently paint his subjects with such drama as to establish himself as a significant figure in art history as well. Reproductions of his life-size watercolors were printed in the famous "Double Elephant Folio" of the Birds of America. The outlines were printed from huge engraved copper plates, and the coloring done expertly by hand. The pictures often illustrated aspects of bird biology: varying plumages, nesting, feeding, defending against predators, displaying, and so on. Less than 130 of the 200 original hand-colored sets of 435 plates have survived intact. The value placed on them as works of art can be judged from the prices commanded by the individual plates from sets that have been broken up. At an auction in late 1985 many plates, including the Flamingo, the Trumpeter Swan, the Gyrfalcons, and the Snowy Owls, sold for over $25,000 each. Top dollar, $35,200, was paid for an example of Audubon's portrayal of a group of seven long-gone Carolina Parakeets.

Bird vocalizations, of course, often figure in works of literature, especially poetry, as the words of Milton, Keats, Shelley, and others about the songs of nightingales remind us. The call of the European Cuckoo has been featured in the chorus of at least one lullaby. Perhaps the most widespread transference of themes from the avian world to the world of human art has occurred in the dance. The peoples of the northwestern coast have exceptional raven and oystercatcher dances. The courtship rituals of cranes are mimicked in the dances of African tribes, the Ainu of Japan, Australian Aborigines, and Native Americans. One might even imagine that cranes have, directly or indirectly, influenced ballet in much the same way Peter Tchaikovsky was influenced by swans more than a century ago when he composed Swan Lake.

The symbolic use of birds continues today unabated. For example, many television advertisements feature the Bald Eagle or assorted hawks to suggest patriotism, dependability, speed, or machismo. The "proud" peacock is the symbol of a major network. Film clips of birds flying, feeding, singing, and courting are also frequently used in nature and public affairs programs to indicate the peaceful, primeval conditions that are rapidly disappearing from our planet. Bird art seems to be getting more popular as the birds themselves start to disappear. Modern bird paintings, prints, and sculptures are in much demand, especially as the works of Audubon and other avian "old masters" are unavailable to most. Children raised with the image of an all-knowing "Big Bird" may well see birds differently than their parents, raised with Woody Woodpecker and Daffy Duck, did, but it seems certain that birds and their biology will, in one way or another, remain embedded in the arts and in the human psyche for a long time to come.

Copyright ® 1988 by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye.


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