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Birds
Birds
American Goldfinch
Plumage
Plumage

They provide warmth, protection from the elements, decoration and camouflage, and are specialized for aerodynamics and flight (most birds), hydrodynamics and diving (e.g., penguins), or to cope with both elements (e.g., cormorants),...
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Evolution and systematics birds

The fossil record of birds is patchy and their evolutionary history is poorly known.The first feathered animal, Archaeopteryx,... Continue  Reading: more >>


Archaeopteryx
Archaeopteryx
Birds

Everyone recognizes birds. They have feathers, wings, two legs, and a bill. Less uniquely, they have a backbone, are warm-blooded, and lay eggs. All but a few birds can fly. Birds have much in common with reptiles, from which they have evolved.

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King Penguin
King Penguin
Mating systems

The majority of bird species are at least socially monog-amous, that is, a pair of birds cooperates to raise young. They may stay together for the,...
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Evolution and systematics Tinamous

In older natural history books, the description of birds usually began with ratites, including rheas, ostriches, cassowaries, kiwis, and the extinct moas and elephant birds of Madagascar.

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Evolution and systematics Albatrosses

A range of fossil albatrosses are evidence of a wider and more cosmopolitan distribution than those extant today. The earliest identified are from the Oligocene in Germany and South Carolina. Species approaching the characteristics of modern albatrosses are from the Northern Hemisphere (Europe and both coasts of North America) in the Miocene and Pliocene, but deposits are known from Australia, South Africa and Argentina in the predominantly marine Southern Hemisphere.

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Evolution and systematics Struthioniformes

While most birds fly, there are several groups of birds that do not fly and have anatomical adaptations for a life on land. Some of the largest living birds make up the group of flightless birds generally called the ratites. Historically, some taxonomists have placed most of these large birds in the order Struthioniformes. Many recent taxonomists have divided the ratite group into separate orders and others into separate suborders or families. Most recently the Handbook of the Birds of the World has once again placed these birds in one large order, Struthioniformes, with several families: Struthionidae, the ostriches; Rheidae, the rhea; Casuariidae, the cassowaries; Dromaiidae, the emus; and Apterygidae, the kiwis.

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Anatomy and physiology Birds

The skeleto-muscular system of birds combines light weight with high power for flight. Muscle mass is concentrated near the center of gravity-around the breast and bases of the wings and legs-which gives a compact, aerodynamic form. Long tendons control movements at the ends of the limbs. Flighted birds have more massive breasts and wing muscles; in terrestrial birds, much of the muscle mass is in the upper legs.

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