s00u3le2 - Weedon Island Air Lesson II Weedon Island Air...

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©Project Oceanography 24 Weedon Island: Air Weedon Island - Air Lesson II: Weedon Island: Air keywords: plumage, ratite, bills, talons, molt Background Bird Information: In the air, or masqueraded in the canopy of mangrove trees, someone walking quietly might encounter a red-tail hawk, a pileated woodpecker, a red cardinal, and even a wren or warbler. If fortunate, they a bald eagle soaring overhead. Beautiful butterflies color the sky with their wings, and down near the water’s edge, a roseate spoonbill or blue heron might be found hunting. Decorating the water’s edge and the surrounding trees might be many white ibis, wood storks and sandpipers. The birds might be hunting small fish, bugs and worms. Plumage Birds’ feathers, or plumage play many important roles; they are influential in attracting a mate, intimidating competitors, vital for warmth and camouflage. In many species, adult males are very brightly colored, whereas the females blend into the background. Plumage protects birds against the cold and rain. Feathers trap air near the body of the bird, and this acts like insulation around the bird’s body. Swimming birds have water-repellent body feathers. Under these there lies a dense coat of short, fluffy feathers called down. Down is an excellent insulator. Birds lose and replace their feathers at least once a year. This is called molting. In most migratory species, the new plumage is grown after breeding and before fall migration. The reason that birds molt is because feathers become faded and brittle with long exposure to sunlight. Some are lost during flight or pruning, or they just grow old with time and use. Senses Birds rely heavily on their senses. Sight, hearing, smell, and touch are the most commonly used in all birds. Their sense of sight is very good and they can perceive objects in very dim light. Some birds have better developed senses according to their needs, lifestyles and habitat. In addition to these
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©Project Oceanography 25 Weedon Island: Air Weedon Island - Air senses, birds have a superb sense of balance and are sensitive to small vibrations. Most birds have relatively large eyes and can perceive colors. Some birds’ eyes are on the sides of their heads. This allows them to see a larger portion of the surroundings without turning their heads. Others, like owls’, have eyes located on the front of their head. Their eyes cannot move from side to side in their sockets; therefore, owls must turn their faces toward an object to see it. Birds use their voices to sing, communicate and attract a mate. Often, sound rather than sight recognize birds’ mates or young. Only a few kinds of birds have a well-developed sense of smell. These birds include the American
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s00u3le2 - Weedon Island Air Lesson II Weedon Island Air...

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