Feathers and wings make birds the brightest star in the animal kingdom. In order to survive and sustain future generations, birds exhibit a resolute vitality. With nearly 10,000 species throughout the world, birds live in the harshest of climates, from the most frigid places on earth to its highest peaks, from the roaring oceans to sweeping rivers, dense forests, vast grassland, desolate plateaus, and even in the most densely populated cities, they can be seen in every corner of the world.
In the world of flight, these aviators in the sky bring much dazzling beauty to the mother nature, filling it with an intense vitality like no other.
The World of Flight — Water Birds
The number of known living bird species is near to 10,000. They adapt to their various niches with distinct physical characteristics and behaviors. Depending on their particular habitats, most birds are classified into either as water or land birds. Water birds, which can be seen from oceans to inland rivers and lakes, include waterfowls, waders, and seabirds. Waterfowls and waders mainly live in wetlands, while seabirds generally live on water or around it. Water birds like to stay in flocks, which makes them easy to spot and hunt and endangering their survival.
Waterfowls, Waders, and Seabirds
In ever-changing ecosystems, birds have developed adapted features according to their particular habitat and foraging needs. Some waders have relatively longer feet and toes, suitable for walking and foraging food in shallow water. Their varied beaks are quite useful for catching fish and shrimps or filtering organisms from water.
Seabirds' legs are usually shorter than waders. Their short legs and webbed feet are suitable for swimming. Most seabirds have highly developed uropygial glands that secrete oils for them to spread on their feathers with their beaks. Some seabirds' legs are located toward the back of the bodies, allowing them to rapidly dive into water for hunting.
There are around 18 living penguin species, almost all exclusively live in the Southern Hemisphere. Penguins are flightless birds and exceptionally good swimmers. They stand upright when walking on land, using their tails and wings to balance. Penguins have black-and-white countershading to hide them from their predators in the water and above on the land. In their whole life, penguins spend half of their time in water and half on land. They reproduce on land every year and change their plumage. Penguins mostly live on krill in the Antarctic area, but they also catch cuttlefish and other small fish.
The World of Flight— Land Birds
Land birds primarily live and forage on terrestrial environments, such as grasslands, forests, mountains and tundra. You can even see the traces of them on cultivated farmlands or in the bush. They mostly feed on plants, fruit, and insects. Raptors are groups of land birds that are good at flying and hunt other animals for food. Land birds usually live in one place and rarely migrate between different seasons.
Land Birds and Birds of Prey
Pheasants, quails, and doves are all land birds. They are anatomically suited for walking on land and not good flyers. Some land birds are adapted to climbing behaviors, and have zygodactyls (toe two and three facing forward and the hallux and toe four facing backward). They mostly feed on insects, fruits, and seeds in forests.
Birds of prey, or raptors, include eagles, hawks, falcons, ospreys, buzzards, and owls. They are excellent aviators having strong legs and formidable talons. Many raptor species even have sharp projections along their bills to better manipulate their prey. Raptors have both eyes at the front of the head, resulting in binocular vision, which enables them to determine distance better and helps them capturing prey.