Keywords and phrases.

I find that the keywords and phrases are more meaningful as part of each Review so I am in the process of moving these comments into each of the reviews

In this module I summarise the various keywords and phrases which allow me to place birds in habitats, sub-habitats and niches (or at least groups of niches).

Aquatic birds.

Waterfowl – aquatic, herbivorous, grazers and foragers.

  • Large to medium sized, large bodies, plant eaters.
  • Habitats mainly inland, large lakes to small ponds, including rivers, estuaries and some coastal regions.
  • Many favour large, reasonably open areas, readily seen on grassland surrounding water bodies.
  • Some a little more secretive, like cover of reed beds and marshes.
  • Feeding techniques, grazing, foraging, dabbling, diving for plant materials.
  • Spurs on the wings of some species, in specific regions of the world, consistent with evolution in Gondwanaland.

Sea and ocean birds – a disparate group of aquatic predators.

  • Most are carnivorous fish eaters.
  • Feeding techniques, plunge diving, swimming / diving to pursue prey, surface feeding, piratical behaviour, scavenging.

Inland waters and river birds - fresh water birds.

  • Favour inland, fresh water bodies, some winter at sea.
  • Fish eaters, take prey with pointed or hooked-tip beaks.
  • Larger birds have no particular fear of other birds.
  • Smaller birds (Kingfishers and Dippers) fly low and fast to avoid predators.

Long-legged Waders.

  • Large bodied, long-legged birds.
  • Wade in coastal and inland waters in many parts of the world.
  • A variety of beak types enable various food specialisation.
  • Only Avocets and Stilts can swim.

Shore Birds.

  • Seen along the edges of water rather than in the water.
  • Familiar along shorelines and coastal mudflats, some also readily found on moorland, pastures, grasslands and cultivated areas.
  • Larger Shore Birds detect prey by sight and pursue it along the ground.
  • Smaller birds glean shore surface for prey.

Marshland, Reed-bed and Swamp birds.

  • Large bodied, herbivorous, plant eating grazers and foragers.
  • Use dagger-beaks to find prey in reed-beds and low, thick vegetation at the edge of water bodies.
  • Smaller birds cling to reed stems, eating insects and seeds.

Wetland Foragers.

  • Large, quite confident foragers.
  • Omnivorous, adaptable in terms of what they eat and how they take it.
  • Need plenty of space.

Birds of Prey and other Flesh Eaters.

Diurnal Hunters.

  • Flesh eaters. Prey can be meat or fish, alive or dead.
  • Birds which take fish from water surface but are not swimmers.
  • Aggressive behaviour to other birds, some are positively piratical.
  • Feet and talons play a major part in catching prey.
  • Birds which don’t have strong legs and talons eat dead flesh (carrion).
  • Strong, hooked beaks enable butchering of prey - note this needs a firm surface and is difficult on water.

Nocturnal Hunters.

  • Flesh eaters - usually live meat.
  • Good hearing, silent flight.
  • Feet and talons play a major part in catching prey.
  • Strong, hooked beaks enable butchering of prey - note this needs a firm surface.

Opportunistic Small Hunters.

  • Flesh eaters - usually live meat.
  • Feet and claws play a major part in catching prey.
  • Small birds of prey utilise thorns and spikes to hold dead prey.

Piratical Flesh Eaters.

  • Flesh eaters, usually fish.
  • Hooked beak used to snatch fish from water surface.
  • Aggressive, piratical behaviour to other birds.
  • Usually eat prey in flight.

Fruit Eaters.

  • Large to medium sized birds with large, even massive, beaks which are suited to eating plant tubers, fruit and seeds.
  • Use feet and beaks for support whilst clambering about the trees in search of food.
  • Mainly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.