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How can you tell a bird's health by looking at his feathers?

His feathers should look well preened (he should be spreading an oily substance secreted from the uropygial gland all across its feathers to waterproof and protect them).
If you see a fault bar, also called stress bar, that is a sign of an unhealthy bird. It looks like a weakened area on the feather vane. where the barbs lack barbules.
If a feather is stressed during its growth, even for a few hours, there is an interruption in its blood flow and that turns into a fault bar.
Common stressors: poor diet, thyroid disease, infection,...


Structure of the tail feather

Contour feathers make up the flight feathers of the wings (remiges) and TAIL (retrices).
They are moved by muscles attached to the walls of the follicles and consist of:
Inferior Umbilicus (opening at base of feather)
Superior Umbilicus (opening on feather shaft)
Calamus (quill)
Rachis (main feather shaft)
Vane (flattened part of a feather)



2nd and 3rd toes face forward
1st and 4th toes are directed backward



3 toes face forward
1 toe faces backward


Flight muscles

*large, superficial
*Origin: Sternum
*Insertion: underside of humerus
*depresses wing (downstroke)
*Origin: Sternum
*Insertion: top of humerus
*elevates wing (upstroke)


Parts of a bird's upper GI tract

Crop (Storage pouch for food)
Proventriculus (glandular stomach)
Gizzard (muscular stomach)


What do you call bird feces?

Mute (feces and urine together - black & white) or droppings


Differences in vocalization in birds

Syrinx - the voice box of birds - is an enlargement of the trachea above the lungs & sternum
*contains muscles, air sacs, and vibrating membranes
*complexity of a bird's vocalizations depends on the number of muscles present in syrinx


What's precocial?

Newly hatched chick covered with downy feathers, eyes open, is mobile and leaves the nest quickly (e.g. chicken)


Bird's vision

Highly developed, superior vision in both black-and-white and color.
Birds can see wide spectrum of wavelengths.
Some species can see ultraviolet colors. (e.g. hummingbirds).
Rods and cones similar to mammals (nocturnal birds have more rods than cones; rods contain rhodopsin - night vision pigment)
Birds can see motion and detail 2-3 times better than humans.


Functions of air sacs

*Reservoirs for air
*Provide warmth and moisture to facilitate diffusion of air through capillaries
*Aid in thermoregulation
*Help provide buoyancy
- Air sacs are not lung tissue
- Thin walled, lightly vascularized membranes
- There are 9 (8 paired, 1 unpaired)
- Paired: cranial thoracic, caudal thoracic, cervical, and abdominal
- Unpaired: interclavicular


EXTRA CREDIT: Greek mythology - bird that rose from the ashes

The Phoenix was the mythological bird that rose from the ashes of its own destruction.


EXTRA CREDIT: American native mythology - the wisest bird, talks to humans

According to Native American legends and myths some tribes believed that the Crow (or raven or owl) had the power to talk and was therefore considered to be one of the wisest of birds.