Teaching Treasures™

interesting facts about birds

Silkie Bantam and Indian Runner duck  Two Sea gulls mating  Indian Runner duckling  Chick on a mandarin  Silkie bantem hens

The most remarkable feature of a bird are the feathers. A bird depends on its feathers for its powers of flight. The wing feathers must not become separated from each other in flight and the whole wing must maintain a smooth surface if it is to give lift and aerodynamic control that the bird requires.

Feathers are highly specialized structures, light, strong, flexible yet stiff. At the centre of the feather is a rigid shaft called the quill. The lower part which is generally short, is called the calamus and grows out of the skin. The upper part, called the rachis, bears a set of barbs on each side. Lots of tiny barbs keep the feather together.

A feather is made of protein and is produced at a papilla, a projection in the epidermis or outer layer of skin. When fully grown, it is composed entirely of keratin, a tough protein containing sulphur, with a large number of dead cells filled with air.

The Wandering Albatros has the greatest wingspan of up to 3.7m from wingtip to wingtip but the tiniest birds in the world are hummingbirds. The Bee Hummingbird of Cuba is only about 57mm long, half of which is beak and tail. It weighs only just over 1.5g. The world's largest bird is the Ostrich, growing up to about 2.5m tall. It also lays the largest egg, 13.5cm long, weighing 1.65kg. It is equivalent to about 18 chicken eggs and takes about 40 minutes to soft boil. Could you imagine what a mountain of scrambled egg it would make?

The most savage and efficient predators are the hawks and falcons. They fly fast and when they spot their prey, swoop down and hit it hard with their outstretched talons. I guess they must eat too! Of course the most common egg laying bird is the good old hen. Many varieties are available and breeders often travel for miles to show their pride and joy; a hen or rooster.

Ducks and geese are fairly common birds too which are kept as pets or for eggs. They are not difficult to look after and will give lots of pleasure to children and adults alike not to mention the eggs! Cockatoos, galahs and parrots are absolutely fantastic in colour and character. Their often amazing brilliant colours have dazzled many people. Keeping such birds as pets is not uncommon although they certainly belong in the wild where they can enjoy their freedom.

a project idea

Over the course of several days or weeks collect feathers of all kinds.
On a large poster draw the outline shape of a bird or several birds.
Carefully glue the feathers on the bird poster to create your own bird master piece.

Bird Facts Game | Animania

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