12 Fun Facts About Birds

With over 10,500 identified species, birds are found in all corners of the world. Each species is unique and able to survive in a huge range of environments. Read on to find out some of the special characteristics that make birds so amazing.

1. Birds have hollow bones.

Hollow bones can lighten a birdís weight to make flying easier, but thatís not the whole story. A University of Massachusetts study found that bird bones can actually weigh just as much as other animalsí bones. The difference is that bird bones have greater bone density than mammal bones, which makes them tougher. They also often have a twisted or curved shape for increased strength when pushed during flight.

Snowy Owl Taking Flight
Snowy Owl Taking Flight

2. Some birds can fly higher than Mount Everest.

The Ruppellís griffon vulture flies the highest of any bird on record. It can reach altitudes of 36,000 feet. To put that into perspective, most commercial airlines fly between 30,000 and 40,000 feet. And Mount Everest is about 29,000 feet high. Bar-headed geese are a close second. They fly over the Himalaya mountains as part of their annual migrations and have been found at heights over 21,000 feet.

3. Crocodiles are the closest living relatives of birds.

Both birds and crocodiles evolved from the same group of reptiles that first appeared over 200 million years ago. These reptiles went on to become the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were wiped out in a global mass-extinction around 65 million years ago, but somehow crocodiles and birds survived and continued to flourish.

Bird and Alligator

4. Birds donít pee.

In mammals, our urine removes waste products from our blood and gets stored in the bladder until we pee it out. This would create a lot of weight for a bird, so birds donít have bladders. Instead of producing and storing urine, birds produce a white, pasty substance thatís excreted with their poop. Thatís why youíll often see bird droppings that have black and white streaks mixed together.

5. Birds communicate using sound and color.

Parrots are well-known communicators. They use their body posture and colorful feathers to relay information, as well as their unique calls. Their ability to mimic human words is also famous. Although, itís been proven they donít merely ďparrotĒ words back to you. Parrots actually learn the words and can pose questions, describe objects and ask for what they want. Check out Dr. Irene Pepperbergís work with Alex the parrot as a great example:


6. The largest bird in the world is the ostrich.

Male ostriches can get up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and weigh up to 350 pounds (160 kilograms). They also have the largest eyes compared to any other land animals. An ostrichís eyes are even larger than its brain.

7. Baby birds are either precocial or altricial.

Precocial bird chicks, meaning ďripened beforehand,Ē can get up and run very soon after birth. Killdeer chicks are a prime example, as well as ducklings and baby quail. Altricial chicks are more common. They hatch blind, naked and helpless, such as robins, blue jays and eagles. The hatchlings must wait in their nests and rely completely on their parents for food and protection.

Baby Killdeer
Baby Killdeer

8. Birds donít always come in flocks.

There are many different names for groups of birds. A group of crows is called a murder, congress or horde. Finches come in charms, penguins in huddles and geese in gaggles. The most creative may be a pandemonium of parrots or a flamboyance of flamingos.

9. Most bird species are monogamous.

To birds, monogamy might mean staying exclusively with one partner for the duration of a mating season, then parting ways and finding different mates the next year. But some birds commit for life. For instance, a flamingo pair can stay together for over 50 years.

Flamingo Pair

10. Some birds can sleep in the air.

The sooty tern is known for taking 1-2 second naps while flying. This allows the tern to stay in the air for extended periods. It lives over tropical waters and eats fish and crustaceans, but it canít land on the water because its feathers are not water-repellant. Sooty terns spend the majority of their lives in the air, only touching down occasionally to nest and raise their young.

11. Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards and sideways.

Most birds fly by stroking their wings up and down. Hummingbirds stroke their wings forwards and backwards, which gives them their distinctive agility in the air. Hummingbirds also have the smallest eggs of any birds. Even though an egg is the size of a green pea, it can often represent as much as 10 percent of the motherís weight when itís laid.

Hummingbird

12. Some birds are poisonous.

Pitohuis are a common type of bird in New Guinea, and theyíre the only known type of poisonous birds in the world. At least three species of pitohui have a neurotoxic poison in their skin and feathers. Researchers believe the birds donít produce the poison themselves, it comes from a toxin-producing beetle in their diet.

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149 comments

Sue H
Sue H16 days ago

Beautiful photos. Thanks for the information.

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Paula A
Past Member 4 months ago

thank you

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Maria P
Mia P5 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Kelly S
Past Member about a year ago

awesome!

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Past Member
Past Member about a year ago

cool

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Anson A
Anson A1 years ago

wow, this article so lovely and amazed read it . and lot a new information for me, thanks, because birds it's pretty and lovely. I've six birds and I care my bird since I love it, if you want to learn more information about birds so you can visit my website,
https://jollykung11.wixsite.com/viralfacts

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jaime J
Jaime J2 years ago

Thank you

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Julie Pham
Julie Pham2 years ago

Thanks

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Patrice Z
Patrice Z2 years ago

Love the picture of the baby killdeer!

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