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What Are Birds?


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Birds are a hugely varied and fascinating part of our world's ecosystem, from common sparrows to parrots to eagles to cranes to weird muppet-looking birds like the potoo. In this talk, I'll showcase a few of my favorite birds and their interesting qualities, and discuss some ways we can help make the world a better place for our feathered friends.

Published in: Environment
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What Are Birds?

  1. 1. What Are Birds? a discussion of birds, by carly ho
  2. 2. But really, what is a bird?
  3. 3. Generally, a bird: ○ Has a beak ○ Reproduces by laying hard-shelled eggs ○ Has feathers ○ Is warm-blooded and has a spine ○ Has a four-chambered heart ○ Has pretty light bones
  4. 4. Things some birds do, but not all: ○ Talk ○ Use tools ○ Fly ○ Pass on knowledge across generations ○ Migrate
  5. 5. Birds are incredibly diverse
  6. 6. A selection of intriguing birds
  7. 7. Nightjars
  8. 8. Facts about the nightjar ○ Might be a cryptid - an old myth says they suck the milk from goats ○ So good at hiding that some species have only been seen literally once ○ Some of them can hibernate for weeks or months ○ Fancy wings ○ A close relative is the potoo
  9. 9. some nightjars males get these sweet wing decs during breeding season
  10. 10. (a potoo)
  11. 11. Pigeons
  12. 12. Facts about pigeons ○ Technically city-dwelling wild pigeons are called "feral pigeons" ○ Domesticated bird species, which means they are actually pretty good pets ○ Have served honorably in past wars, e.g., the highly-decorated Cher Ami
  13. 13. More facts about pigeons ○ They're some of the more intelligent birds ○ There are so many kinds of pigeons I could probably do a whole talk on just pigeons ○ While we consider city pigeons overabundant, passenger pigeons went extinct after being v numerous ○ Many species of pigeon are extinct in the wild
  14. 14. Polynesian ground dove (left), soccorro dove (right)
  15. 15. Parrotlets
  16. 16. Facts about parrotlets ○ The smallest new world parrot species ○ They form life-long pair bonds with mates and do the same with people in captivity sometimes ○ Parrots of any size (parrotlets included) have v powerful beaks and are not to be messed with ○ They can potentially live 20-30 years ○ They think glasses are a jungle gym
  17. 17. tumblr user flock-talk and the best encapsulation of parrotlet personalities possible
  18. 18. or: birding Let's look at a bird
  19. 19. What is birding? ○ Birding, or birdwatching, is going out and looking for birds for fun! ○ Birders try and view interesting birds, and/or identify them by sound, since types of birds have unique calls ○ There are many organizations dedicated to helping people appreciate birds in their community by birding
  20. 20. Birding resources In Chicago: American Birding Association: The Audubon Society: You'll probably want a field guide for IDing birds and some binoculars!
  21. 21. Help a bird! or: conservation
  22. 22. Bird conservation matters The biggest threats to bird populations are often generated by human populations. ○ Hunting, pre-Migratory Bird Treaty Act ○ Unsupervised outdoor cats ○ Window collisions ○ Congress
  23. 23. What you can do! ○ Go to ○ Find a local wildlife rescue to volunteer with ○ Keep any outdoor pets supervised ○ If you want a pet bird, consider adopting! ○ Help efforts to lobby for bird-safe windows in new buildings ○ Get involved in birding to learn more about birds!
  24. 24. this has been a discussion of birds @carlymho