Aves

Birds

The class Aves includes all birds. These warm-blooded vertebrates have feathered covered bodies, give birth to egg-bound young and most have two limbs modified for flight. There are over 8,700 living species of birds distributed throughout the world. Birds occupy nearly all habitats and range in size from the 2.5-inch hummingbird to the 8-foot ostrich.

Birds have lightweight bones with large airy canals. These modifications help to reduce their overall weight and aid in flight. Bird skulls have relatively large craniums, and unlike mammals, both the upper and lower jaws move when the bird opens its mouth.

Birds of Prey
Birds of prey are birds specialized in hunting. This group includes hawks, owls, eagles and falcons. Birds of prey possess excellent eyesight for locating prey. Even the nocturnal owls have specially adapted vision that allows them to see in the dark. These magnificent hunters feed on a variety of species including rodents, rabbits, smaller birds, snakes and insects.

Hornbills
Hornbills are a family of birds native to tropical and sub-tropical Africa and Asia. Named for their long, curved bill, hornbill beaks are frequently brightly-colored and sometimes possess a casque on the upper mandible. Hornbills are the only birds in which the first two neck vertebrae, the atlas and axis, are fused together. This skeletal adaptation provides more support for their oversized bills.