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Bird Migration Glossary

A

adaptation
a structure, behavior or trait that has evolved over a long time to help a living thing to survive in its habitat
auriculars
loose feathers on the sides of a bird's head that cover its ear openings. These feathers are also called "ear coverts".

B

banded bird
a bird that has a small metal tag that was placed on its leg to identify it
beak
the hard material on a bird's head which makes up the nose and mouth
bird of prey
a carnivorous bird that mainly feeds on meat that it catches by hunting (hawks, eagles, falcons) or on meat that is already dead (vultures)

C

carnivore
an animal that eats a diet of meat
claws
are specialized scales. They grow continuously and are worn away through daily activity. Claws are usually called talons when we refer to birds of prey.
crown
the top of the head of a bird. In some birds it is called the "crest".

F

field marks
special characteristics that help to identify and name the bird you see., Field marks can be color, structure (such as a crest), or patterns, (such as an eye-stripe).
flyway
migratory routes that the majority of birds in North America move through. There are four main North American flyways.

M

migration
periodic seasonal movements
mist net
an almost invisible nylon mesh net used by ornithologists to capture wild birds for banding or other research projects. Photos.

N

nape
the back part of the neck
navigation
to find your position and direction on the surface of the earth

O

orientation
how a bird knows in which direction to go
ornithology
the scientific study of birds

P

preen gland
a special oil gland at the base of a bird's tail that is rich in waxes, fatty acids, fat, and water. Birds spread this oil over their feathers to waterproof and clean them, to keep them moist and flexible, to improves their insulation capacities, and to control germs and lice.
preening
the name for the behavior of birds when they scratch, comb their feathers with the bill, or perform other feather-care behaviors
primaries
flight feathers attached to the manus, or the "hand" part of the wing

S

secondaries
flight feathers attached to the forearm (ulna), closer to the bird's body than the primary feathers

T

talon
the name given to claws on birds of prey

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