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Planets Glossary

A

aves
the Latin word for birds; a special class of vertebrates

B

binocular vision
seeing only one object at a time; both eyes focus on the same object
bird of prey
a carnivorous bird (hawk, falcon, eagle, etc.) that kills and eats small mammals and other birds

C

carrion
decaying flesh of a dead body
cere
fleshy area above the beak, where the nostrils of most birds are located
contour feathers
stiff feathers designed to cover the wings and body of a bird
crop
a large sac between the esophagus and stomach that stores food until the bird is ready to begin digestion

D

down feathers
fluffy feathers designed to help insulate and keep a bird warm
drag
anything that hinders or hampers the speed; something that pulls you down

F

fledge
the rearing of a young bird until it has grown its feathers and is able to fly and leave the nest
flight feathers
special contour feathers that help a bird get off the ground, move in the air, and land safely
fovea
a rodless area of the retina enabling a bird of prey acute vision

G

gizzard
a special muscle of the stomach that helps the digestive process by grinding and crushing hard-to-digest food; acts like teeth

K

keratin
a tough, fibrous protein; the basic substance of hair, nails, horns, feathers, shafts, etc.

M

molt
to shed feathers, skin, horns, etc. before replacement with new growth
monocular vision
seeing two different objects at the same time; a different object per eye

N

nictitating membrane
a transparent third eyelid hinged at the lower lid of the eye of raptors, and closes laterally across the eye

O

ornithologist
an individual that studies birds

P

pellet
the unusable and undigested material that a bird cannot process for nutrients, and is regurgitated in the form of a pellet
preening
a process that most birds do with an oil secreted from a special gland; involves rubbing the oil over its feathers to protect them

R

raptor
of or belonging to a group of birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, owls, etc.; Latin word meaning to seize or capture

S

shaft
the stem of a feather; the hollow tube that holds the feathers together and in place

T

talons
the lethal weapons of raptors; powerful feet with toes (usually three or four) having sharp ends

V

vertebrates
an animal with a backbone or spinal column

W

warm-blooded
being able to control and maintain a constant body temperature even when the temperature of the environment changes
wings
either of the paired organs of flight of a bird, bat, insect, etc.

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