Birds inspire kids to explore ideas and dream about flying. The soft feathers and the mysterious eggs in the kitchen cupboard, captures their attention and imagination. Birds often figure in children's stories and describing a bird to a child requires some planning. Many birds share characteristics, but there are species that are more difficult to classify into the bird family. Clear and precise descriptions of birds, makes it easier to describe bird species that are different.
Feathers make birds stand out from other animals, and birds are the only animal with feathers. Yet, millions of years ago, feathered dinosaurs were bouncing around on earth. The soft feathers help to keep birds warm, and protect them from water and snow. Feathers are made of keratin, which is a material that you can find in your hair and nails. Birds have wings, but so do some mammals and insects .
Wing feathers help a bird to fly and some eagles have large wings to help them soar high in the sky. Tail feather help a bird to steer. Feathers come in all the colors of the rainbow, and most colors come from the way light is reflecting on the feathers. Flamingos get their colors from the food they eat. Some birds have strong and colorful feathers to attract mates. Other birds try to blend into the environment, and they have brown or gray feathers.
Most birds can fly, but some birds run or swim. Penguins are birds that swim to transport themselves from one place to another. They can walk short distances, but they cannot fly. The fastest-running bird is the ostrich, which also cannot fly. Birds have two feet, and four toes on each foot. There is a claw at the tip of each toe. The size and the shape of the foot and claws vary. Birds that spend most of their time in the water often have webbed feet. Webs are skin between the toes and this means that the birds can use their feet as a paddles. Ducks, pelicans and gulls have webbed feet.
Singing and Beaks
Listening to birds singing is a fun way to see where a bird is sitting. Birds sing to attract mates and to warn other birds about a predator. Chickens will run to safety if they hear a call from their mother. Birds lay eggs, but so do other animals such as fish, snakes and lizards. Birds have a beak but they have no teeth. Toucans have large, colorful beaks. A sparrow has a small, thin beak. Birds use their beaks to eat, find food and feed their chicks.