There are between 9,000 and 10,000 bird species alive today. Roughly 160 species of birds are known to have gone extinct since 1500, and about 54 of those species went extinct after 1900, including some species that are classified as extinct in the wild but the last living members survive only in captivity. (Bird Life International, 2012)
It is widely accepted that birds evolved from reptilian dinosaur ancestors and that feathers evolved from modified scales. But birds share some characteristics with other classes of animals as well, like having a backbone, a four-chambered heart, and being endothermic (warm-blooded). Other characteristics unique to Class Aves are: feathers for flight and insulation from the elements, beak or bill rather than teeth for eating or defense, reproduce by laying eggs with a hard shell, pneumatic bones (bones that are hollow rather than being filled with tissue), and who can forget about wings! Keep in mind, not all birds have the ability to fly despite the presence of wings.
The Wildlife Waystation is home to a variety of birds that include emus, exotic birds and raptors as well as local wild birds who were injured and unable to survive in the wild. We also have many peacocks and free flying birds, including waterfowl, who come and go as they choose.
- About.com. “Birds.” http://animals.about.com/od/birds/p/birds.htm
- Animal Welfare Institute. “Endangered Species Handbook.” http://www.endangeredspecieshandbook.org/dinos_bird.php. 1983.
- Bird Life International. “State of the world’s birds.” http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/102. February 2012.
- Boundless. “Characteristics of Birds.” Boundless Biology. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 05 Sep. 2015 from https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biology-textbook/vertebrates-29/birds-175/characteristics-of-birds-675-11897/.