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Bird Watching Terms

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
About the Contour Feather 
Bird Anatomy 101 
10 Common Birds to Look For 
Drs. Foster & Smith Backyard Kids - Wild Birds

Avian: Referring to birds, or typical of birds

Bird Call: A vocal sound produced by a bird, usually to talk with birds of the same species

Bird Watching: Looking at birds in their natural world

Brood: Young birds that were hatched at the same time and raised together; some birds have more than one brood per nesting season

Cavity Nester: Birds that will only nest in enclosed areas, like holes in trees or nest boxes

Clutch: The total number of eggs that are laid and incubated at one time (see incubate below)

Coniferous: Various, mostly needled trees that produce cones, like Pine, Balsam, etc.

Crest: Raised feathers on the head of a bird that form a peak

Deciduous: Trees or plants that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season

Diet: The usual foods a wild bird eats; can include food offered by humans that birds will eat

Down: Fluffy feathers closest to a bird's skin that help keep it warm; the first feathers of a young bird

Evergreen: A tree or shrub that keeps its leaves all year; these trees provide birds with hiding places year-round

Fledgling: A young bird that has left the nest but still needs help from parents with feeding

Forage: To look for food or other needed items, such as nest materials

Glean: A method birds use to pick-off insects from trees, branches, structures, or the ground

Habitat: The landforms and plant types (environment) in which a bird lives

Incubate: To warm the eggs

Life Span: The average number of years a bird may live

Mated Pair: A male and female bird of the same species that get together to nest

Migrate: Fly to a different location during a portion of the year

Molt: To shed feathers so that new growth or adult feathers can take their place

Nestling: A baby bird from the time it hatches until the time it leaves the nest

Open Nesters: Birds that will not nest in enclosed areas

Ornithologist: A scientist who specializes in the study of birds

Plumage: The external covering of a bird, made of feathers and down. (Plumage is often spoken of in terms of seasonal color changes or changes in appearance from youth to adulthood)

Predator: An animal that lives by attacking and eating other animals or creatures

Range: Includes all the areas in the world a bird lives

Roost: A place where birds can rest or sleep or stay warm on cold nights

Songbirds: Birds that can produce musical note sounds or calls

Species: Related living creatures that have common traits and can produce offspring together

Suburban: On the outer rim of a larger city or outside the official limits of a city

Territory: An area around the nest usually including feeding areas that most backyard birds will defend

Urban: Within a city or area of larger population

Wingspan: The length of a bird's outstretched wings from tip to tip

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