Lesson #2 – Birds

Did you know? 

There are about ten thousand species of birds worldwide! Their size range from as little as 5 cm (the bee hummingbird), to as big as 2.75 m/9 ft (the ostrich)! 

Most birds have wings and can fly, but some, such as penguins, ostrich, emus and kiwis can’t fly. Some aquatic species can also swim.

Hundreds of species have become extinct because of human activity (hunting, deforestation, etc.), and today more than 1,000 bird species are threatened with extinction. Some people try to protect them, and we can certainly help! Let’s start by understanding a little about the birds that live in our neighbourhood.

According to what they eat, birds can be classified as follows:

1. Carnivorous – birds that eat meat. They can be:

– Avivorous – that eat other birds, such as hawks.
– Insectivorous – that feed on insects. While most birds will eat insects to feed hatchling, others are primarily insectivorous all their lives, such as swallows and martins.
– Molluscivorous – birds that eat mollusks such as snails, slugs or oysters.
– Ophiophagous – birds that eat snake, such as herons, hawks and owls.
– Piscivorous – birds that eat fish, such as raptors, penguins, puffins and other aquatic birds.

2. Herbivorous – birds that eat plants. They can be:

– Frugivorous – birds that eat fruits, such as orioles, waxwings, and toucans.
– Granivorous – birds that eat mainly grains and seeds. Many birds are granivorous, including sparrows and finches.
– Mucivorous – birds that feed on plants’ and trees’ sap. Some birds such as woodpeckers, have a mucivorous component to their diets. 
– Nectivorous – birds that feed on flower nectar, such as hummingbirds and sunbirds.
– Palynivorous – birds that eat pollen. Many nectivorous or insectivorous birds can also be palynivorous.

3. Omnivorous – birds that have a widely varied diet and eat all types of food. Ducks are well-known omnivores.

Here are some local birds and their diet:


Photos of wild birds, from friends around the world!

Mourning Dove (Allison, Canada)
Monk Parakeet (Sandra, Spain)
Toucan (Anjee, Brazil)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Paulette, Switzerland)
If you also have a picture of a wild bird to share, please send it to us!