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Study of Common Birds

Study of Common Birds

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Published by Shaunak De

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Published by: Shaunak De on Oct 08, 2010
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01/12/2013

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Study of Common Birds
Birds make up the scientific class Aves. They are warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrateanimals that are covered with feathers and possess forelimbs that have modified to becomewings. Birds also have scaly legs, and no teeth (except in a few early fossil forms). Theymaintain a constant body temperature of about 41 degrees C (106 degrees F).All birds today have descended from their flying ancestors, but a few such as ostriches,emus, some grebes, and cormorants have lost their capacity for aerial flight. Others, such aspenguins, have become adapted to flying in a much denser medium, water. Birds are foundin all habitats, from the icy shores of Antarctica to the hottest parts of the tropics, and frommountains, deserts, plains, and forests to open oceans and densely urbanized areas.They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birdsrange in size from the 5 cm (2 in) Bee Hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) Ostrich. The fossilrecord indicates that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period,around 150–200 Ma (million years ago), and the earliest known bird is the Late JurassicArchaeopteryx, c 150–145 Ma. Most paleontologists regard birds as the only clade of dinosaurs to have survived the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event approximately 65.5 Ma.Modern birds are characterized by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelledeggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton.All living species of birds have wings - the now extinct flightless Moa of New Zealand werethe only exceptions. Wings are evolved forelimbs, and most bird species can fly, with someexceptions including ratites, penguins, and a number of diverse endemic island species.Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight.Some birds, especially corvids and parrots, are among the most intelligent animal species; anumber of bird species have been observed manufacturing and using tools, and many socialspecies exhibit cultural transmission of knowledge across generations.Many species undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorterirregular movements. Birds are social; they communicate using visual signals and throughcalls and songs, and participate in social behaviors including cooperative breeding andhunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators. The vast majority of bird species are sociallymonogamous, usually for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, but rarely forlife. Other species have breeding systems that are polygamous ("many females") or, rarely,polyandrous ("many males"). Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents.Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.Many species are of economic importance, mostly as sources of food acquired throughhunting or farming. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets.Other uses include the harvesting of guano (droppings) for use as a fertilizer. Birds figureprominently in all aspects of human culture from religion to poetry to popular music. About120–130 species have become extinct as a result of human activity since the 17th century,and hundreds more before then. Currently about 1,200 species of birds are threatened withextinction by human activities, though efforts are underway to protect them.
 
Blue Jay
The Blue Jay is a common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest;blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligenceand complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is creditedwith helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.Blue jays can make a large variety of sounds, and individuals may vary perceptibly in theircalling style. Like other corvids, they may learn to mimic human speech. Blue jays can alsocopy the cries of local hawks so well that it is sometimes difficult to tell which it is.[4] Theirvoice is typical of most jays in being varied, but the most commonly recognized sound is thealarm call, which is a loud, almost gull-like scream. There is also a high-pitched jayer-jayercall that increases in speed as the bird becomes more agitated. This particular call can beeasily confused with the chickadee's song because of the slow starting chick-ah-dee-ee. Blue jays will use these calls to band together to mob potential predators such as hawks anddrive them away from the jays' nests.Blue jays also have quiet, almost subliminal calls which they use among themselves inproximity. One of the most distinctive calls of this type is often referred to as the "rustypump" owing to its squeaky resemblance to the sound of an old hand-operated waterpump. The blue jay (and other corvids) are distinct from all other songbirds for using theircall as a birdsong.
 
Song Sparrow
Aptly named, the Song Sparrow will sing as many as 20 different melodies with as many as1,000 improvised variations on his basic theme. In areas where the birds migrate, the malearrives on the breeding ground ahead of the female and starts to define a territory bysinging his song from three or four prominent perches.The Song Sparrow is 5 to 6 inches in length, heavily streaked gray-brown upperparts. Dullwhite underparts have dark central breast spot, thick streaks. Head has brown crown, palermedian stripe, pale gray eyebrow, white chin, dark brown moustache stripe. Rust-brownwings. Tail is long, usually tinged rust-brown.Birds in some areas will vary, with paler subspecies in the Southwest and darker subspeciesalong the West Coast. In early spring the male sings constantly and defends his territory.When the female first arrives, the male will dive at her as he does with any other intruder,but the female does not flee. In time the male will accept this behavior and the two willbegin to move about the territory together. At this stage the male will reduce his singing toonly about ten Songs per hour.Once the nest building has started, the male Song Sparrow will renew his singing. The nest iscup-shaped and made of grasses and occasionally leaves, placed on the ground early in theyear, and up to 30 feet above the ground later in the season. Although the male may carrynesting materials, it's the female who builds the nest. The female lays one egg each day untilthe clutch of 3 to 5 greenish white with dark marks is complete.

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