Birds

Birds

by Natalia Varkova

How different the world would be without birds! Their chirping, their songs, their varied colours and flying — all contribute to the beautiful variety of life. But how often do we stop to listen to and observe them? If you are a city dweller surrounded by the hustle and bustle of daily life and the noise of traffic, you may not even notice the birds in your neighborhood. Even if you live in the country, it is easy to take them for granted.

Birds inhabit all parts of the earth, and they are among the easiest creatures to observe. What is more, their variety in form, colour, song, antics, and habits can make bird-watching, or birding, entertaining and rewarding pastime.

But what is a bird? And do you know what makes a bird different from other animals? It is not the pretty colours. It is not the beak or bill. It is not the eggs. It is not the wings. Feathers! All birds have feathers and birds are the only animals that do. The feathers do many jobs for birds. The soft down keeps them warm, the wing feathers allow them to fly and the tail feathers are used for steering. The colour of the feathers can be used to hide the bird or to help the bird find a mate.

So birds are warm-blooded, feathered vertebrates and produce offspring bylaying eggs. There are more than 10694 of species of birds. Birds range in size from the 5 cm (bee hummingbird) to the 2.75 m (ostrich). Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species. They give birds the ability to fly. Many speciesannually migrate great distances. Somespecies, such as ostriches, penguins and kakapos, have lost the power of flight but they retained their wings.Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some water-birds use them for swimming.

Birds' diets are varied and often include nectar, fruit, plants, seeds, carrion, and various small animals, including other birds. Because birds have no teeth, their digestive system is adapted to process food items that are swallowed whole. Birds` digestive system is unique. It allows them to eat when they can – usually while flying – and digest later. They use their beaks to grab and swallow food.

Birds are social, communicating with visual signals, calls, and bird songs, and participating in such social behaviours as cooperative breeding and hunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators.

Have you ever seen a blue jay?

Birds are very interesting and they can impress you – such giants as eagles, falcons, and hawks – as they patrol the skies, others may amuse you: sparrows squabbling over a tidbit, a male pigeon puffing out its breast to impress a seemingly indifferent female, or a group of squawking rose-pink and gray galahs hanging upside-down on a swaying power line as a result of losing their balance. And some sightings will thrill you, such as the overhead passage of migrating storks, cranes, or geese.

But would you like to see your local birds close up?

You can do just that by means of a simple bird feeder in your backyard, placed within range of a window. Then, all you need is a pair of binoculars and a camera with a good zoom lens — and a little patience! Andbirds will amaze you with their antics, beauty, courtship rituals, and songs. What is more, they can also teach the thoughtful observer valuable lessons about life. Will you “observe intently the birds”?Then watch, listen, and enjoy!

Speaking

1. What do you know about bird-watching? What countries is it popular in? Do people usually bird-watch in our country? Why do people bird-watch? Have you ever bird-watched? What do people need to bird-watch? What can we do to make bird-watching popular in our country?

2. Do you like birds? Why do you like them? What birds do you like most of all? Why? What birds impress you most of all? Why?

3. Why do people keep birds? What birds do people keep in our country?Why do people confinebirds in cages? Have you ever had a pet bird? What do you think about confining birds in cages?

4. What bird species do you know? What birds live in our country? Are there any endangered species in our country? What birds species need help in our country? Why? When do birds usually need help in our country?

5. What do you know about organization of the bird`s body? Why can birds fly? What is their digestive system? How do they produce their offspring?

6. Why do birds migrate? Where do they migrate? Do all birds migrate? What local migratory birds do you know? When do they migrate? When do they return?

7. What makes a bird different from other animals? Why do birds sing? Are birds smart?

8. Why do birds need our protection? Why do people kill birds? What natural enemies do birds have? Why have some species disappeared?How can we protect birds?

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