SPECIAL FEATURES OF BIRDS (2): Adaptive features of birds

Birds come in all shapes, sizes and colours and are adapted to an enormously wide range of ecological circumstances. Despite their differences, they all have several features in common.

All birds have two legs and two wings, all have feathers and a beak and most of them are equipped to fly. Some, like the migratory birds, have the ability to fly extraordinary distances to enable them to move between suitable feeding grounds and breeding sites.

Fascination with birds’ ability to fly has occupied a branch of ornithology and scientists and birdwatchers for as long as written records have been kept.

We know, for instance, that birds were studied during the era of the Egyptian Pharaohs 5000 to 6000 years ago. One of the most famous bird lovers of the early modern period was Leonardo da Vinci. He was so fascinated by birds that he dissected them, drew them and studied them in great detail. They provided the model in his quest for human flight.

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Beaks, wings and feathers are unique to birds (except for the platypus with its bill and the extinct theopod dinosaurs which had feathers) so we consider these unique features first. (To be continue)

A Part of Introduction The Amazing Book of Gisela Kaplan & Lesley J. Rogers “BIRDS, THEIR HABITS AND SKILLS.

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