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There are over 8,000 species of birds. Birds have 3 major differentiating characteristics: wings for flight, feathers, and a beak rather than teeth.

Birds have adapted their vertebrate skeleton for flight. Their bones and skull are very thin, making their bodies extremely light.

To support flight also required other changes to their skeleton. Obvious changes are the addition of wings.

Other changes are less obvious. The claws and muscles of a bird's foot are designed to lock and hold onto a perch even while the bird is sleeping.

A bird's respiratory system is also adapted to make it easier to breathe at high elevations, where air is thinner.

For more information on birds, see our Bird Video Collection.


Web Sites about Birds:

Birds section of Animal Kingdom

Audubon Adventures Watch List for Kids from the Audubon Society

The Journey North helps students follow bird migration

The Great Backyard Bird Count Identification Guide from the Cornell Orinthology Laboratory

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