Bodies of Birds

Every part of the bird’s body is made so that the bird can fly as well as possible. The bones are hollow and light. The breast muscles are very powerful, because these are the muscles the bird uses to flap its wings and help take off from the ground, stay in the air, and land easily. Some birds have long, narrow wings and others have broad wings that are short and flat. The hummingbird can beat its wings so fast that it is able to stay in the air in one place for a long time. Some birds are able to soar and glide without flapping their wings. Some days an eagle can glide back and forth in the sky for several hours, without flapping his wings at all. Many birds have their own special way of flying.

A few birds do not fly. The ostrich has funny little wings that it cannot use, and the penguin’s wings are somewhat like paddles, and so the penguin has become one of the world’s best swimmers. Scientists believe that millions of years ago birds came from reptiles. The legs of the birds are still covered with scales, and look like the skin of a lizard or snake. Scientists also believe that the soft feathers that cover the bodies of all birds were once scales. Feathers make a very warm coat for a bird, and the wing feathers help it fly. At the bottom of a bird’s tail there are little glands that contain oil. As the bird moves his feathers, this oil comes out and helps make the feathers smooth and waterproof. Birds have hard beaks instead of the soft mouths that many other animals have. You would be surprised at how many things birds can do with their beaks. The woodpecker’s beak is a very handy hammer for tapping the trunks of trees. Many birds use their beaks to defend themselves against their enemies, and almost all birds use their beaks to clean their feathers, and to gather material for a nest, and to build the nest itself. skywings

But the most important things birds do with their beaks is get food. Hummingbirds have long thin beaks that can easily search the insides of flowers for nectar and tiny insects. The heron has a long sharp beak that is very good for catching fish. The pelican also eats fish and it has a kind of sack under its beak where it stores the fish it cannot swallow immediately. A very funny sight is a flamingo having its lunch. It eats with its head upside down in the water, swinging its curved beak between its legs, and scooping up mouthfuls of water and mud. Then it strains the water and mud through the sides of its beak and finally it eats the small animals that are left. One of the strangest beaks is the beak of the skimmer, which gets its name because of the way it eats. The lower part of the skimmer’s beak is longer than the upper part. The skimmer uses this lower beak to scoop small fish and other water animals from the surface of the water, as it flies along. This way the skimmer does not have to even stop to have a meal but can just pick it up as it goes along. Bird’s feet are as different as their beaks, and are just as useful in getting their food. affluentwords

Sparrows and thrushes and most of the birds that you can see inĀ  your garden are called perching birds. Their feet are specially made so that they automatically curl around a branch or twig when these birds perch and rest their weight on their feet. Herons and ibises are wading birds, and they have long legs and thin toes so that they can stand on the soft muddy bottoms of rivers and run very fast in shallow water. The jacana is a South American bird whose toes are so long and thin that it can walk on top of the leaves of floating water plants. Ducks and geese who spend most of their time in the water have webbed feet, and the plover, who dives for his dinner, has winged toes. Eagles and hawks have sharp claws so that they can snatch and tear apart the animals they catch.


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