Have you ever looked out your window at your backyard feeders and looked at all the different species of birds? There are many amazing facts about birds. Whether you want to learn about common birds or a more exotic bird species, check out these bird facts for kids.
Different Types of Birds
Specific characteristics make a creature a bird. They must have:
- a high metabolism
- a four-chambered heart
- a beak with no teeth
- a lightweight skeleton
- produce hard-shelled eggs
There are many different types of birds worldwide, each with unique features and ways of life. There are over 249 different families of birds. These families are broken into 6 different types of birds, the songbirds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, birds of prey, waterfowl, and flightless birds.
Whether you are looking to learn about nocturnal birds, flightless birds, or large birds of prey, there is so much information. Here are just a few different types of birds you may be able to find in your backyard!
Many birds are nocturnal, or they sleep during the day and are awake and hunt at night.
One of the most known nocturnal birds in North America is the owl. Owls eat their food whole. Then, they create a pellet containing bones and fur. They throw up the owl pellet to get rid of the waste. Inside of the pellet are the bones of what it ate.
Species of owls you may hear or see when bird watching at night are:
- American Barn Owl
- Flammulated Owl
- Western Screech Owl
- Eastern Screech Owl
Owls are known for their ability to fly silently because of their feathers. Their specialized feathers on their body and their tail feathers alter air turbulence and absorb sound. They can fly within inches of their prey without being noticed!
Many other bird species are nocturnal as well. Here are just a couple:
- North Island Brown Kiwi Birds
- Black-Crowned Night Heron
Nocturnal birds have more rods than cones in their eyes. Rods help the birds see during periods of low light, like in the middle of the night. Birds awake at night follow the same patterns as birds awake during the day. They will forage or look for food, hunt for prey, preen (clean themselves), build nests, mate, and do whatever other tasks they need to do for survival.
Bird migration is a regular movement for many species of birds. The birds move from the north to the south, often looking for breeding grounds and warmer locations to spend the winter. Many of these birds travel long distances to get where they want to be.
Some bird species that live in the United States and are migratory birds are:
- American Robin
- American Tree Sparrow
- Eastern Bluebird
- Arctic Tern
Migrating birds often follow a cycle. It is divided into four parts.
- Part 1 is breeding season. This happens during the Summer when birds lay eggs and baby birds hatch.
- Part 2 is the migration away from the breeding grounds or south. Migration occurs in the Fall.
- Part 3 is the period where the birds stay in one place. This period usually is from late Fall to early Spring and is called overwintering.
- Part 4 is migration back to the breeding grounds. This happens in the Spring.
Many birds do not migrate and stay in the same environment every month. These birds may change the areas where they live but do not take a long flight.
Bird species that do not migrate are:
- Northern Cardinals
- Bee Hummingbird
- Downy Woodpecker
- European Starlings
- House Sparrows
Some birds that do not fly south for the winter have developed adaptations to help them survive the cold winter months. Some adaptations include changing their diet, insulating feathers, shivering, cuddling, and tucking in their extremities like legs and wings.
If you can believe it, some birds do not fly at all! There are over 60 species of birds that do not fly. Birds not being able to fly may seem weird, but many of these birds have other special characteristics that make them unique.
Some flightless birds are:
- Steamer Duck
The Emu and Ostrich may not be able to fly, but both birds have long legs. Because those long legs, they can run quickly and are some of the fastest birds in the world! Penguins are very social animals and live in large flocks.
Emperor Penguins clump together in large numbers during the year’s coldest months. Each penguin takes a turn being on the outside of the group where it’s coldest and the inside where it’s warmest! Isn’t that amazing teamwork?
Large Birds of Prey
Large birds of prey are also called predatory birds. These species often hunt live prey. Some species will eat carrion because they are also scavengers. Carrion is the scientific word for decaying flesh of dead animals.
Predatory species are:
- Peregrine Falcon
- Bald Eagle
These birds are not very picky when it comes to their food. Depending on the region they live in the birds will eat various foods. That includes fish, large insects like grasshoppers or beetles, reptiles and amphibians, and small to medium mammals like mice, voles, rabbits, and even other birds.
Well-known scavengers are:
- Turkey Vultures
- Common Raven
- California Condor
There is no “scavenger family” in the bird species. Scavenging is just a habit and way these birds survive. You will find many different scavenging species and many birds who will scavenge if needed.
Something exciting about the United States is that each state has a specific bird. The chosen bird is often a symbol of the state for multiple reasons. It usually is typical or unique to the specific region that the state is located. Many states also have state flowers, plants, mottos, and flags!
State birds examples:
- Arkansas = Northern Mockingbird
- Colorado = Lark Bunting
- New Hampshire = Purple Finch
- South Carolina = Carolina Wren
Each bird had to be voted on by the local legislature. Some states even share the same state bird! The Northern cardinal is the most shared bird and seven states share it. The Western Meadowlark follows it and six states share this bird.
Bird Family Groups
Most birds do not recognize their family members after the first year of their life. However, there are exceptions in very social birds like cranes, crows, and jays. Canadian Geese also remember their family groups and may rejoin their parents and siblings during migration and Winter.
Penguins are one of the most social species of birds. They are colonial which means they live in large flocks. During the breeding season, penguins form large groups called rookeries. The rookeries consist of hundreds of penguins!
Here are some fun facts about birds you may not have known!
- A female Northern Cardinal has a bright orange beak, while the male has a bright red beak.
- The Hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backward.
- A flock of birds has a different name depending on the bird species—examples: a raft, a band, a host, a chime.
- The Loggerhead Shrike looks like it is wearing a black mask.
- The chicken is the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- Pigeons can recognize human faces.
These are just a few interesting facts about birds! There are so many amazing species of birds and each one has unique qualities and characteristics!