There are eight thousand six hundred kinds of birds, varying in size from the tiny hamming to the largest of all living birds, the ostrich. If we about the Birds They are of different colours and they live in many different places. They eat different kinds of food and they make different noises.
But, in spite of all this, birds are a group of animals that are similar in many ways. For example, they all have feathers. They have warm bodies and the feathers help to prevent this warmth from being lost. Only birds have feathers so that if you want to decide if some unknown creature was a bird or not, you would only need to see if it had feathers.
As well as having warm bodies and feathers, all birds have wings. Most birds use these for flying but there are birds that cannot fly, such as penguins and ostriches, and they use their wings in other ways. Penguins use their wings for swimming and ostriches use them when they run and sometimes for showing off.
Like any other animal, a bird must eat and every bird has a beak to pick up its food. Because there are many different kinds of food which birds can eat, the shape of the beak varies. In fact, it is possible to get a very good idea of a bird’s food by looking at the shape of its beak.
All birds lay eggs and the baby bird develops and grows inside the egg until it finally grows too big and breaks it open. After it has hatched, the young bird is still rather helpless and has to be looked after by its parents until it is strong enough to look after itself.
There are some birds, such as the cuckoo, which do not look after their own young but lay their eggs in other birds’ nests.
WHY DO BIRDS SING?
The song of birds is one of the liveliest sounds in nature. Sometimes when we are out in the country and we hear birds singing, it seems to us that they are calling back and forth, that they are telling one another something.
The fact is that birds do communicate with one another, just as many other animals do. Of course, at times, the sounds birds make are mere expressions of joy, just as we may make cries of ‘Oh!’ and ‘Ah!”. But for the most part, the sounds that birds make are attempts at communication.
A mother hen makes sounds that warn her chicks of danger and cause them to crouch down motionless Then she gives another call which collects them together. When wild birds migrate at night, they cry out. These cries may keep the birds together and help lost ones return to the flock.
But the language of birds is different from language as we use it. We use words to express ideas, and these words have to be learned. Birds don’t learn their language. It is an inborn instinct with them. In one experiment, for example, chicks were kept away from cocks and hens so they couldn’t hear the sounds they made. Yet when they grew up they were able to make those sounds just as well as chicks that had grown up with cocks and hens!
This doesn’t mean that birds can’t learn how to sing. In fact, some birds can learn the songs of other birds. This is how the mockingbird gets its name. If a sparrow is brought up with canaries, it will make great efforts to sing like a canary.
If a canary is brought up with a nightingale, it can give quite a good imitation of the nightingale’s song. And we all know how a parrot can imitate the sounds it hears. So we must say that while birds are born with the instinct to sing, some learning takes place, too.
Did you know that birds have dialects? The song of the same kind of bird sounds different in different parts of the world. This shows that, in addition to their instinct, birds do quite a bit of learning in their lifetime when it comes to singing.