Birds of a Feather
Andy's Amazing Bird Facts
No other animal is quite as fascinating or as easy to find as a bird. Birds truly are everywhere – around our homes and buildings, in the wilderness or at the cottage. And because they can fly, they can be found literally everywhere in the world – on every continent and at sea. Birds are reptiles and they’re believed to be the closest living relative to dinosaurs…very cool!
With over 9,000 recorded species in the world and 900 of those in North America alone, it’s no wonder so many of us have taken a keen interest in these amazing creatures. Birds vary greatly in colour, size and behaviour. Keep the following things in mind when trying to identify birds in your area:
- Birds are the only animals that have feathers and all birds have feathers.
- Birds are warm-blooded creatures that have wings, no teeth, their feet are covered in scales, and they lay eggs.
- Birds walk on their toes with their heels in the air.
- The plumage on males, females and baby birds can differ greatly. Males usually have the showiest feathers with the brightest colours.
- Birds don’t only differ greatly in appearance, but also have other distinguishing features such as songs and calls, behaviour and habitat.
The birds on the right side of this page are some of the most common species in North America at certain times of the year. Step outside and see what you can find in your yard. Check out these interesting bird facts:
- Scientists estimate that there are about 100,000 - 200,000 million adult birds in the world.
- Since the 1600s at least 115 bird species have gone extinct.
- The most common bird in the world is believed to be the common domestic chicken.
- The largest living bird is the Ostrich (Struthio camelus) at 2.74m (9ft) high and 160kg (353lb). That’s a little taller than the ceiling in your bedroom and more than twice as heavy as the average adult.
- The heaviest flying bird is the Kori Bustard of Africa (Ardeotis kori) at 19kg (42lb) - about as heavy as an average 4-5 year old child.
- The Wandering Albatross, (Diomedia exulans) has the longest wingspan measuring as much as 3.63m (11 ft 11 ins). That’s one and a half times the height of your bedroom ceiling.
- The smallest bird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) from Cuba weighing in at 1.6g (0.056oz).
- The smallest Egg is laid by the Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) and is the size of pea.
- The Australian Mallee Fowl (Leipoa ocellata) builds a nest 5 m (16.5ft) high and 11 metres (36ft) wide – about the size of 4 or 5 large school buses parked side by side.
- Hummingbirds build the smallest nests- about the size of a thimble.
- Migrating birds use the stars and sounds from the earth below to find their way at night.
- As many as 2-5 billion birds worldwide fly south each winter and most spend 6-9 months there.
- Migrating North American birds usually cross the 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico without resting.
- Using energy at the rate of a Hummingbird, a human would have to eat 340 pounds of potatoes every day.
- The Arctic Tern flies 10,000 miles every spring and fall between winter and summer habitats.
- A Tundra Swan has about 25,200 feathers on its body, while the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird has only 940.
- Groups of birds have special names: a "cast" of hawks, "flights" of doves, an "exaltation" of larks, a "host" of sparrows.
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