The topic of Birds is a six-volume set designed to introduce the young reader to the fascinating world of birds. Birds, in all their variety, from the forests of North America, to the beaches of South America, to the mountains of Europe and the plains of Australia, share certain common features of anatomy and physiology […]

Adelie Penguin (Birds)

ORDER Sphenisciformes FAMILY Spheniscidae GENUS & SPECIES Pygoscelis adeliae KEY FEATURES • Modified, flipperlike wings drive this flightless seabird through the icy but nutrient-rich seas around Antarctica • Crowded breeding colonies of up to a quarter of a million birds stretch over rocky coastal slopes • Parents take turns incubating their two eggs, each fasting […]


Generally speaking a bird is any member of the class known as Aves that share certain common characteristics and traits. Birds are warm-blooded, bipedal animals whose anatomy is characterized by forelimbs modified through natural selection and evolution to become wings, whose exterior is covered by feathers, and that have, in most cases, hollow bones to […]

African Fish Eagle (Birds)

ORDER Falconiformes FAMILY Accipitridae GENUS & SPECIES Haliaeetus vocifer KEY FEATURES A first-rate fisher, the fish eagle skillfully seizes prey, usually catching its quota early in the day Interlocked mating pairs engage in whirling aerial courtship displays that can end in death Known throughout Africa for its song that peals out continuously from sunrise to […]

African Gray Parrot (Birds)

ORDER Psittaciformes FAMILY Psittacidae GENUS & SPECIES Psittacus erithacus KEY FEATURES • Expertly extracts seeds and flesh from all manner of nuts and fruits, using both delicate manipulation and brute force • Gathers in flocks of hundreds at nightfall to roost high in the rainforest canopy • Utters a range of screams, shrieks and whistles […]

African Harrier Hawk (Birds)

ORDER Falconiformes FAMILY Accipitridae GENUS & SPECIES Polyboroides typus KEY FEATURES • Specializes in flying very slowly, nearly stalling, while scanning the ground for its small prey • Unique double-jointed knees allow it to grab victims from deep inside holes, cracks and crevices • its broad wings, long tail and long legs present a large, […]

African Pygmy Falcon (Birds)

ORDER Falconiformes FAMILY Falconidae GENUS & SPECIES Polihierax semitorquatus KEY FEATURES • Uses the nests of birds called weavers to roost and breed • Rapid and agile in flight, it darts through the air with short, quick bursts of speed • Female easily distinguished from the male by her deep chestnut back • Small raptor […]

American Black Vulture (Birds)

ORDER Falconiformes FAMILY Cathartidae GENUS & SPECIES Coragyps atratus KEY FEATURES • Extremely keen eyesight allows this scavenger to look for food while soaring high in the sky • Though it searches out the most putrid food, it does not rely on smell to find a meal, as some vultures do • Performs a useful […]

American Cliff Swallow (Birds)

ORDER Passeriformes FAMILY Hirundinidae GENUS & SPECIES Hirundo pyrrhonota KEY FEATURES • Elegantly colored small bird that forages for insect prey while in flight • Chases after swarms of insects with its tiny mouth wide open • Groups gather mud to build nests in colonies on cliffs, canyons, bridges or buildings WHERE IN THE WORLD? […]

American Coot (Birds)

ORDER Gruiformes FAMILY Rallidae GENUS & SPECIES Fulica americana KEY FEATURES • Propels through the water with its lobed feet in search of aquatic plants and animals • During the breeding season, launches “splatter-attacks” on intruding birds in defense of its nesting territory • Chicks swim almost immediately upon hatching, but remain with the parents […]