Welcome to OrniLOLogy, the blog where I talk about birds. Before we get started, it would be helpful to have a little background information, such as:
What makes a bird a bird?
Birds are animals, which in general means that they move around and eat other living things to obtain fuel, and they are vertebrates, meaning that they have a backbone. There are four groups of vertebrates: fish, reptiles, mammals, and birds. So what sets birds apart from the rest? How could you look at an animal and say “that’s a bird,” without any doubt in your mind?
Is it the ability to fly? No. There are many animals capable of flight that are not birds. Bats can fly and they are mammals, and lots of insects can fly, too. Furthermore, there are several species of birds that cannot fly. Ostriches and penguins, for example, are both completely flightless.
What about laying eggs? No. Reptiles and fish lay eggs, too, along with many invertebrates.
Beaks? Close, but no. Other animals have beaks, including turtles and squid.
There is one feature that is unique to birds. Something that birds and only birds possess. Have you guessed it?
Feathers are the exclusive property of birds. All birds, and only birds, have feathers.* Feathers are used for…
So there you have it. If something has feathers, it’s a bird.
That’s all for now, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more facts about birds!
*Birds are the only living animals with feathers. There is a great deal of evidence that most dinosaurs had feathers. This makes sense, considering that all birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs. More on that later.