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Types of Birds and Bird IdentificationBlue and Gold Macaw
Birds are fun to watch, make fascinating pets, and come in many types, colors, and sizes!
Learning about the many diverse types of birds is an exciting adventure. Birds are social animals; they enjoy companionship and have great personalities, and come in all shapes and sizes. Here you'll find a lot of interesting bird information whether you are considering keeping one as a pet, want to learn all about birds, or just want to learn about a particular species.
There are loud birds and quiet birds, show birds and shy birds. Some birds are active and playful, some will talk, and others will sing. There are some that tend to be a one-person bird or only like either men or women, but many birds enjoy being friends with the whole family. There are also birds that simply do best in flocks, and these make great aviary birds.
Choosing a pet bird is a composite of many factors. If you are considering keeping one as a pet, gather bird information. Start with learning how to identify birds and their different characteristics. A basic understanding of the different types of birds gives you a good idea of which birds are best suited as pets. This in turn will help you determine which kinds of birds will fit best into your life.
As you read about the many different types of pet birds, you'll start figuring out which ones you really like. Maybe you'll fall in love with a particular bird for its color, or maybe you really want one that you can train to talk or perform tricks. Or maybe you just love to listen to birds, or want to watch their crazy antics. As you learn about the different types of pet birds, you will then be able to start determining which ones will fit into your household and lifestyle.
There are birds for sale that can suit just about every type of person, and every type of lifestyle. After you explore the different types of birds and their behaviors, then think about your desires, needs and temperament. Putting all this together, combining the bird information you gathered and what you've determined about yourself, will help you discover which bird will make the right pet bird for you.
Get in-depth bird care for different types of birds here:
Pet Animal Care Guides: Bird Care Sheets
- Bird Characteristics:
Perhaps the most striking thing about birds is that they come in all colors and in many sizes. Smaller birds are usually less expensive and their enclosures and play areas take up less space. Large birds need a lot more room and are more expensive to buy and maintain.
The sizes of birds varies greatly. Your pet can be a large bird like a macaw or cockatoo. It can be a medium large bird like the Amazon parrots, African Greys, or pigeons. You may want a moderate, medium sized bird like one of the conures, Ringneck Doves, or some of the bigger parakeets. Or you may want to start small, with a less expensive bird. Some of the most popular and readily available smaller birds are the budgerigars (called parakeets in the United States), cockatiels, lots of different types of finches, as well as canaries.
The many different colors birds come in is definitely intriguing as well. You may be drawn to a particular bird because of its attractive plumage. Fortunately color doesn't usually take any special consideration unless you get a bird that needs color feeding, like a red-factor canary, which needs special red foods to keep its coloring strong.
- Bird Families:
An incredible thing about birds is that they are not all built the same. Because they are not built the same, different groups of birds or bird families have specialized traits that can be very desirable. Some people love talking parrots and others love the song of the canary. There are also people who love developing and showing different types of birds like canaries, pigeons, or even chickens. Other people enjoy working with birds of prey in the sport of falconry.
- Bird Species:
You'll find that each of the different bird families, or groups of birds, will have a shared set of normal behaviors. This bird information is helpful in determining the traits that you want in your pet. However, each individual bird, though still having the characteristics of its group, also comes with its own unique characteristics and temperament.
Many parrots are known for their talking ability and some types are considered better talkers than others. But because each bird is unique, you could find your bird being a better talker than its group. Conversely you may choose a pet bird whose group is among the best of talkers, and your particular bird may only say a few phrases or not talk at all.
The earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx lithographica, lived about 140 million years ago during the Jurassic period. It is known from fossil records discovered in slate quarries in southern Germany. These fossils show this early bird to be about the size of a long-tailed pigeon. Today there are more than 9000 bird species.
Depending on how birds are viewed or their use, bird identification can be approached is several different ways. Those studying them in a scientific manner identify birds by placing them in a taxonomical structure. While those that observe them or keep them as pets may identify birds in a more romantic or practical manner. Bird identification can actually include a number of different descriptions.
- Scientific Classification
In the taxonomical classification system, all birds are members of the Aves Class. They are then divided into some 28-30 orders and each order has a scientific name to describe its group. Interestingly, more than half of all birds, about 60%, are contained within just a single order, the Order Passeriformes, sometimes referred to as the "perching birds".
Most of the scientific orders also have a functional name, or common name, associated with the group. For example, orders of aquatic birds are divided into such things as seabirds, diving birds, long-legged wading birds, and the more common waterfowl. Other orders contain flightless birds, shorebirds, ground dwelling birds, woodland birds, nocturnal birds, and a bunch more. As numerous and diverse as bird types are, the orders themselves can represent a single group, but more often contain a number of related types.
Ultimately in the taxonomic realm, each bird species itself has a single scientific name assigned to it. There is usually with one or more common names associated with it as well.
- Romantic Names:
Besides the scientific names, common names, and functional naming of orders, there are also many romantic or fantastic names applied to groups of birds. You may hear birds described as lovebirds, exotic birds, endangered birds, tropical birds, blue birds, rainforest birds, wedding doves, and more.
- Practical Names:
Perhaps the best know bird identification is with the use of practical names. Like the romantic names, these names also identify birds individually or as groups, but in a more pragmatic manner. Practical names are applied to those commonly kept as pets such as parrots, those seen when bird hunting or bird watching like the waterfowl, and also to birds kept for eggs or food such as poultry.
- Pet Bird Identification:
Pet birds contain all sorts of bird types, and their names can include those from all the types above and more. Pet birds range from large to small parrots, like the Amazons, Macaws, Parakeets, Lovebirds, and more. Hard bills are birds like finches, canaries, pigeons, doves and other seed eaters. The soft bills are those that eat a fruit based diet, like lories, lorikeets, and toucans. There are a many other exotic birds kept as pets as well.
When we think about the birds we associate with, pet birds are what we often first think of. Yet as we gather bird information we realize that we also are involved with birds in many other ways. We regularly see birds in the sky, in trees, in fields, and on water, and from many birds we gain eggs and food.
This list of bird types includes those that we often associate with or are commonly seen:
- Pet Birds
These are birds that have been domesticated many years; with some bird species having been kept for over a thousand years. This is a large group including the many types of parrots; large parrots such as Amazons and Macaws to small parrots like parakeets and lovebirds. Hard bills like finches, canaries, doves and pigeons, as well as soft bills like toucans are also commonly kept as pets
- Farm Poultry
These birds are raised for a particular purpose, primarily food and eggs, and include chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and other farm birds.
Some bird species, like pelicans, swans, flamingos, and other types of large waterfowl, are simply too big for the average home. Though they are quite beautiful and can be kept, they have very specialized housing needs.
- Game birds
These birds are raised as food or for special purposes and include quail, chukar, pheasants, bobtail, and other game birds.
- Birds of prey
These are predator type birds like hawks, falcons, osprey, eagles and others. Falconers keep them, but they have very specialized requirements. To keep these types of birds you may need to be licensed, have the proper training, and handling them requires the right equipment..
- Flightless birds
These birds don't fly, are mostly quite large, and some are raised for food items. This group includes emu, ostrich, kiwi, some ducks species, penguins, and a few others types.
- Wild birds
This is a vast category of birds that have not been domesticated. Many wild birds simply don't do well in a family home, or being caged.
- Animal World References - Pet Birds - Exotic Birds
- Christopher M. Perrins, Consultant-in-Chief, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds, The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World, Prentice Hall Press, 1990.
- Gary A Gollerstein, D.V.M., The Complete Bird Owner's Handbook, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1994
- David Alderton, Birdkeeper's Guide to Pet Birds, Tetra Press, 1987