Mother Nature never fails to continuously fascinate us with her wonders, including birds — from the biggest to smallest ones, from high-flying to the flightless birds, from birds of prey to fowls. Check out our awesome bird facts you need to know!
Kiwis are endangered
These flightless birds in New Zealand lay the largest eggs relative to their body size. Sadly, there are only about 68,000 kiwis left in New Zealand. It means that the country loses about 20 kiwis per week.
These mostly nocturnal birds are the only birds with nostrils at the end of its long beak. Their nostrils are useful in sniffing for possible food, especially insects when their beaks are buried into the ground.
Many birds undertake seasonal migrations between their breeding and wintering grounds
These amazing birds can fly thousands of miles as they migrate!
Scientists believe that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs
Theropods are the earliest-recorded feathered dinosaurs. Theropods first appeared in the latter part of the Triassic period about 231 million years ago.
Some bird species are intelligent enough to create and use tools
Birds definitely do not deserve to be some sort of “influence” for the insult “bird-brain.” They are found to have intelligence and cognitive skills! Many species such as woodpeckers, ravens, warblers, owls, and parrots are known for their use of tools for building nests as well as for catching prey.
There are 9,865 bird species alive today
Out of the 9,864 bird species:
- 1,227 are threatened with extinction
- 838 are near threatened
- 7,735 are of least concern
- 65 are considered lacking enough data to determine their status.
Chickens are the most common species of birds on the planet
As of 2009, there are 50 billion chickens around the world. These numbers come from factory farms alone and do not include chickens from privately owned farms.
The earliest known bird
The earliest bird species, Archaeopteryx lithographica, lived around 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period. Its fossils were found in the Late Jurassic Solnhofen limestone in southern Germany. Many scientists believe that Archaeopteryx lithographica is the missing link between dinosaurs and birds.
Around 20 percent of bird species migrate long distances every year
Swallows, storks, and turtle doves are just a few examples of migratory birds.
Birds are not the only animals capable of flight
There are also bats, the only mammals that can fly, as well as winged insects that fly with great distances.
Birds have feathers, wings and are warm-blooded
In addition, birds are always bipedal, have four-chambered hearts, and have a high metabolic rate. They belong to the class Aves (Latin word for “birds”).
Birds have hollow bones to facilitate flight
At one point you have asked why birds are more lightweight compared to other vertebrates. It’s because they have hollow bones which help them lighten their weight as well as to fly. Although the bones are hollow, they are sturdy. Another interesting fact about bird bones is that their bones are remarkably fewer than those of other animals because they are practically fused together.
Evolutionary biologists remain uncertain as to the origin of birds
The fossils of the early birds do not have enough data to back up evolutionary biologists to help them conclude which group of reptiles did the birds evolve from.
Feathers are unique to birds
No other group of animals has feathers, only birds. If you see an animal having a feather, then you can be sure that it is a bird.
Not do only feathers help most species of birds to fly, they also protect these creatures from other elements such as weather.
Homing pigeons are bred to find their way back home and have been used as messengers for thousands of years. The practice of using pigeons as messengers began as early as 5th B.C. in Syria and Persia (now Iran) as being their only source of large-scale communication networks.
Hummingbirds can fly backward
Not only do they fly back and forth, but up and down as well — and with speed at that! Unlike other birds, hummingbirds can rotate their wings to help them fly and hover in this manner. They use this amazing ability to collect nectar while in flight.
Crows are smart
In folklore, crows are depicted as shrewd and clever birds, as it turns out, this notion is grounded. Research has shown that crows demonstrate behavioral signs of analogical reasoning – they understand analogies. They have the capability to solve analogy puzzles like, “bird is to air, what fish is to…” Humans develop this ability when they’re three to four years old.
Birds can’t sweat
An average bird’s body temperature is several degrees higher than a human’s. Birds inhale air to cool down and regulate their temperature because they cannot sweat.
African grey parrots have an unusual ability to mimic sounds, animal mating calls, and human voices, perfectly. These mimics are not only great at mimicking, but are also highly intelligent, on par with chimpanzees, dolphins, and human babies. Unlike other parrots which are limited to around 50 words, African grey parrots can learn hundreds of words.
While parrots are nature’s famous mimics, some ravens in captivity learn to mimic sounds even better than them. They can mimic sounds of toilets flushing, car engines running, sounds of predator animals and of course, human voices.
Owls swallow their prey whole
Not unlike pythons, some owl species can swallow their prey whole and then regurgitate bones and other indigestible elements. Owls usually prey on raccoons, rabbits, mice, and insects.
Ducks sleep with one eye opened
Some ducks stand guard when their group members are asleep to fend off predators. Guard ducks form a rough circle around their group and sleep with only one eye closed.
The smallest known bird
The smallest and the lightest bird ever found is the bee hummingbird which only weighs a gram and half. A penny weighs more than a bee hummingbird. Other hummingbirds don’t weigh too heavy either. An average hummingbird weighs around 4 grams. The heaviest hummingbirds weigh no more than 24 grams.
Camouflage in penguins
Penguins’ plumage colors help them blend into the ocean water, making them almost impossible to spot. Their backs are colored black, which serves to camouflage them in the darker ocean when seen from above. Their bellies are white colored, helping them blend into the bright colored ocean water, so when seen from below, it conceals them completely or at least partially. Although the black color on their backs contrasts heavily with their snowy habitats, they don’t need to hide from most predators on land.
Budgies birds yawn in groups
You might have noticed that when yawns are mentioned or when you see someone yawning, you yawn in response too. That’s because yawning is contagious. So far, this contagiousness has been observed in many mammals, like dogs, chimpanzees, and rats. But the only non-mammal species to show susceptibility to contagious yawning are budgies birds. Researchers have reason to believe that contagious yawning is a primitive response hardwired in certain animals to exhibit empathy.
Adaptations for flight
Birds need to be extremely light-weight to fly. They have different evolutionary mechanisms in place to help with that, their bones are hollow and light unlike mammalian bones, for instance. Another evolutionary adaptation is the lack of a bladder for storing urine, instead, they have cloacas – specialized organs which help birds excrete crystallized urine along with their feces. The only exception to this rule are some flightless birds like ostriches which separate their urine and feces.
Largest eggs laid by birds
Speaking of ostriches, the largest eggs in the class Aves are ostrich eggs, which weigh around 3 lb. Big as ostrich eggs are, they aren’t the biggest bird eggs to ever have existed. That title belongs to the eggs of a now extinct, the elephant bird. They weighed a whopping 1000 lb. and seven folds the volume of an ostrich egg.
The largest known bird nest
Bald eagles are known to build the largest nests, with an area of 6 m2. The largest discovered nest weighs over three tons.