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Introduction To Birds Of The World
Strange as it may seem, the old proverb that A bird is known by its feathers, finds such exemplification in the science of today that it has actually become the scientific definition of the Class.
Anatomy Of Birds
THERE are, broadly speaking, two sets of characters to be found in the skeleton of any animal. There are, first, those which bear a direct relation to its position in the class of vertebrates, bear witness to its origin and relationship, and are shared to a greater or less extent by every member of the group to which it belongs.
The Geographical Distribution
THE distribution of life over the globe is known as biogeography. With that branch of the subject dealing with the distribution of animals (zoogeography) we are of course at present only concerned with the distribution of birds.
Migrations Of Birds
THE sudden appearance of certain familiar birds in spring and their disappearance at the close of summer has excited the attention and interest of all classes of observers from the earliest times.
Classification Of Birds
CLASSIFICATION is the orderly grouping together of those beings or things that have certain characteristics in common. Zoological classification, therefore, is the grouping together of animals in accordance with their affinities and interrelationships so far as these have been ascertained...
Archaeopteryx, Or Lizard-tailed Bird
The oldest bird of which we have any knowledge, called the Archaeopteryx, or Lizard-tailed bird, the latter name from its slender lizard-like but curiously feathered tail, is found fossil in the lithographic slates of Solenhofen, Bavaria, where its presence was first made known by the discovery in 1861 of the impression of a single feather.
American Toothed-birds
IN point of time the next birds of which we have any knowledge, in the line of evolution between the Lizard-tailed birds and those of the present, are the so-called American Toothed-birds, the remains of which came to light some thirty or more years ago in the Cretaceous rocks of western Kansas.
American Tooth Birds - Hesperornis
The first of these orders to be considered is typified by what has been named the Hesperornis, signifying literally western bird, since at the time of its discovery the locality where it was found was beyond the western limits of extensive settlement.
American Tooth Birds - Ichthyornis
The second order of Toothed-birds (the Ichthyornithiformes) differs essentially from the first, as already mentioned, in having the numerous teeth implanted in distinct sockets.
The Ostriches
IT is perhaps needless to say that the Ostriches are the largest of existing birds, a fully matured individual standing some eight feet in height and weighing quite three hundred pounds.
Ostrich Farming
As a matter of fact, probably few if any wild Ostriches are now killed for their feathers since it has been discovered that they can be domesticated and a superior quality of plumes produced.
The Rheas
IN the New World the place of the Ostriches is taken by a somewhat closely related group of birds known as the Rheas, Nandus, or American Ostriches (Rhea).
Emeus And Cassowaries
WHILE it is perhaps hardly correct to assert that the Emeus and Cassowaries, which comprise the present order, are actually the most primitive of the Ratites, it is beyond question that they must have arisen from the original procarinate stem at a point very near those which gave rise to the Ostriches and Rheas.
The Emeus
With the exception of the Ostriches, the Emeus are the largest of existing birds, a fully matured individual of the largest species attaining a maximum length of about eighty inches, and standing considerably over five feet high.
Cassowaries
The Cassowaries are more numerous in forras than the Ostriches, Rheas, and Emeus combined, as Rothschild, in his magnificent monograph of the genus, recognizes eight or nine species and ten or more subspecies, and states that, owing to the uncertainty of localities whence have come many of the living specimens brought to Europe...
The Tinamous
THE New World, from the southern portions of Mexico to the extremity of South America, is the home of a remarkable group of land birds known as Tinamous (Tinamoos).
The Moas
IN the European occupation of New Zealand half a century or more ago great numbers of the bones of gigantic birds were found strewn over the surface of the plains or lightly buried in alluvial river-banks, lake-beds, and swamps, as well as caves and crevices among rocks.
The Elephant-birds
A FEW years after the discovery of the Moas in New Zealand another race of gigantic extinct birds came to light in Madagascar, and in a peculiar manner.
Kiwis, Or Wingless Birds Of New Zealand
OF the many strange birds found in various parts of the world, perhaps none is more curious and generally interesting than the Kiwis, or so-called Wingless Birds of New Zealand.
The Penguin
AT first sight it might seem that the Penguins were quite closely related to the Auks and their allies, since they have approximately the same shape and much the same habits of life ; but the more closely the Penguins are studied the clearer become the differences, and it is soon seen that the resemblance is hardly more than accidental or superficial...
The Loons And Grebes
ALTHOUGH placed next to the Penguins, the members of the present order are of course quite markedly different from them, but, as suggested in the chapter on classification, this disposition illustrates one of the difficulties of a linear arrangement, and it does not follow that all placed contiguously are equally related.
The Loons, Or Divers
As a family the Loons are relatively very old, two or more fossil representatives having been discovered in the lower Miocene of France and the Pliocene of England, but so far as we are able to determine they did not differ essentially from the modern representatives, showing that the latter have changed but little with time.
The Grebes
As already stated the Grebes are much smaller birds than the Loons, few of them exceeding twenty inches in length, and many of them being under ten inches.
Dabchicks
The Grebes are practically cosmopolitan in distribution. Of the twenty-five or thirty forms recognized, North America lays claim to six, South America to nine, Europe to five, etc.
Horned And Eared Grebes
The genus Dytes, as recognized by American ornithologists, contains three or four forms in which the bill is much shorter than the head and the wings barely more than six inches in length.
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