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Encyclopedia of birds, second edition natural world - New Encyclopedia of Birds - Oxford Reference



Flamingo , (order Phoenicopteriformes), any of six species of tall, pink wading birds with thick downturned bills. Flamingos have slender legs, long, graceful necks, large wings, and short tails. They range from about 90 to 150 cm (3 to 5 feet) tall.

The nest is a truncated cone of muddy clay piled up a few inches in a shallow lagoon; both parents share the monthlong incubation of the one or two chalky-white eggs that are laid in the hollow of the cone. Downy white young leave the nest in two or three days and are fed by regurgitation of partly digested food by the adults. Subadults are whitish, acquiring the pink plumage with age.

To feed, flamingos tramp the shallows, head down and bill underwater, stirring up organic matter with their webbed feet. They eat various types of food, including diatoms, algae, blue-green algae , and invertebrates such as minute mollusks and crustaceans. While the head swings from side to side, food is strained from the muddy water with small comblike structures inside the bill. The bird’s pink colour comes from its food, which contains carotenoid pigments. The diet of flamingos kept in zoos is sometimes supplemented with food colouring to keep their plumage from fading.

Flamingo , (order Phoenicopteriformes), any of six species of tall, pink wading birds with thick downturned bills. Flamingos have slender legs, long, graceful necks, large wings, and short tails. They range from about 90 to 150 cm (3 to 5 feet) tall.

The nest is a truncated cone of muddy clay piled up a few inches in a shallow lagoon; both parents share the monthlong incubation of the one or two chalky-white eggs that are laid in the hollow of the cone. Downy white young leave the nest in two or three days and are fed by regurgitation of partly digested food by the adults. Subadults are whitish, acquiring the pink plumage with age.

To feed, flamingos tramp the shallows, head down and bill underwater, stirring up organic matter with their webbed feet. They eat various types of food, including diatoms, algae, blue-green algae , and invertebrates such as minute mollusks and crustaceans. While the head swings from side to side, food is strained from the muddy water with small comblike structures inside the bill. The bird’s pink colour comes from its food, which contains carotenoid pigments. The diet of flamingos kept in zoos is sometimes supplemented with food colouring to keep their plumage from fading.

Birds are warm-blooded vertebrate (having a backbone) animals whose bodies are covered with feathers and whose forelimbs are modified into wings. Most can fly. Birds are in the class Aves, which contains over 9,500 species divided among 31 living orders. One order, the Passeriformes or perching birds, accounts for more than one-half of all living species of birds.

Most scientists believe that birds evolved from saurischian dinosaurs about 145 million years ago. The first truly birdlike animal, they point out, was Archaeopteryx lithographica , which lived during the Jurassic period. Fossils from this animal were found in Germany in the nineteenth century. This 3-foot (1-meter) long animal is considered to be an evolutionary link between the birds and the dinosaurs. It had teeth and other dinosaurian characteristics, but it also had a feathered body and could fly.

The bodies of birds are covered with specialized structures known as feathers that grow out of the skin. No other animal has them. Feathers act as a barrier against water and heat loss, are light but very strong, and provide a smooth, flat surface for pushing against the air during flight. The feathers of most species have color, often bright and beautifully patterned, that serves as camouflage and is used in courtship displays by males.

Flamingo , (order Phoenicopteriformes), any of six species of tall, pink wading birds with thick downturned bills. Flamingos have slender legs, long, graceful necks, large wings, and short tails. They range from about 90 to 150 cm (3 to 5 feet) tall.

The nest is a truncated cone of muddy clay piled up a few inches in a shallow lagoon; both parents share the monthlong incubation of the one or two chalky-white eggs that are laid in the hollow of the cone. Downy white young leave the nest in two or three days and are fed by regurgitation of partly digested food by the adults. Subadults are whitish, acquiring the pink plumage with age.

To feed, flamingos tramp the shallows, head down and bill underwater, stirring up organic matter with their webbed feet. They eat various types of food, including diatoms, algae, blue-green algae , and invertebrates such as minute mollusks and crustaceans. While the head swings from side to side, food is strained from the muddy water with small comblike structures inside the bill. The bird’s pink colour comes from its food, which contains carotenoid pigments. The diet of flamingos kept in zoos is sometimes supplemented with food colouring to keep their plumage from fading.

Birds are warm-blooded vertebrate (having a backbone) animals whose bodies are covered with feathers and whose forelimbs are modified into wings. Most can fly. Birds are in the class Aves, which contains over 9,500 species divided among 31 living orders. One order, the Passeriformes or perching birds, accounts for more than one-half of all living species of birds.

Most scientists believe that birds evolved from saurischian dinosaurs about 145 million years ago. The first truly birdlike animal, they point out, was Archaeopteryx lithographica , which lived during the Jurassic period. Fossils from this animal were found in Germany in the nineteenth century. This 3-foot (1-meter) long animal is considered to be an evolutionary link between the birds and the dinosaurs. It had teeth and other dinosaurian characteristics, but it also had a feathered body and could fly.

The bodies of birds are covered with specialized structures known as feathers that grow out of the skin. No other animal has them. Feathers act as a barrier against water and heat loss, are light but very strong, and provide a smooth, flat surface for pushing against the air during flight. The feathers of most species have color, often bright and beautifully patterned, that serves as camouflage and is used in courtship displays by males.

Birds ( Aves ), a subgroup of reptiles , are the last living examples of dinosaurs . They are a group of endothermic vertebrates , characterised by feathers , toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart , and a strong yet lightweight skeleton . Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.70m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the class of tetrapods with the most living species, at approximately ten thousand, with more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds are the closest living relatives of Crocodilia .

Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

Birds come in a huge range of colours. These colours can be useful to a bird in two ways. Camouflage colours help to hide the bird, and bright colours identify the bird to others of the same species. Often the male is brightly coloured while the female is camouflaged.


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