The Adaptability Of Birds To Their Environment Biology Essay

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Birds Adaptation. To survive and reproduce, all living organisms must adjust to conditions imposed on them by their environments. An organisms environment includes everything affecting upon it, as well as everything that is affected by that organism. Conformity between an organism and its environment constitutes what biologists call adaptation.

Birds, from these entire organisms, can adapt depending on the environment. Different species of birds have developed different types of wings, beaks, and feet to adapt to their lifestyles. These adaptations help birds live in their habitats and carry out their feeding methods in the most efficient way possible. In this section we presented three different environmental adaptations of Birds that are desert, forest and water.4

Desert Birds

Like the other creatures of the desert, birds come up with interesting ways to survive in the harsh climate. There are many birds that can live in the climate of the desert. Some birds will migrate and stay only awhile in the desert but others will remain year around as they are adapted to the harsh conditions of the desert. There can be intense heat and a lack of water in the desert so birds have adapted to these conditions (Starnes, Dorothy, 2002)5

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Some birds are able to take protection from the intense desert heat as they can dig underground and have a place to be in a lower temperature (Starnes, Dorothy, 2002). Others will take over already inhabited nests to escape the heat. Others just do not have a home anywhere and do not migrate as they cannot fly successfully to leave. Birds will get in the shade if possible, under rocks or brush to escape the intense heat especially if they do not have a good capacity for being able to sweat. There are birds that just do not have to drink as often as others. Species of birds are able to obtain water from their diet. Some birds need to quench their thirst more than others. Since birds have this flying ability they are able to fly long distances to obtain water when necessary even in the desert.

Some examples of desert birds are:-

Insect hunting bird is the pale crag martin (formerly Hirundoobsoleta) lives in Middle East and Africa (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) that survives well in the desert. When the wind blows insects are blown against brush and rocks and this bird is able to live from the insects.

The roadrunner (Geococcyxcalifornianus) is probably the most well-known desert bird. Roadrunners are so named because they prefer to run rather than fly. Lives in the desert of the North American southwest or Mexico and is a large, black-and-white ground bird with a head crest, long white-tipped tail and an oversized bill (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Starnes, Dorothy, 2002)and their youngest depend on walking to find food and water.

http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/images/roadrunner_big.jpg

(This is a roadrunner. During the day, roadrunners hide in the bushes to keep cool)

Forest Birds

Forests are home to many birds of prey like hawks, eagles, and vultures. Vultures are seen virtually everywhere in the tropics because they feed on the remains of other creatures. Vultures may seem ubiquitous, but many birds of prey are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting as pests. One of the best examples is the Mauritius kestrel, is the only bird of prey in Mauritius and still the rarest falcon in the world (Schirf, Diane L., 2000)6

http://system-x.info/wp-content/original/2009_01/mauritius_kestrel.jpg

(This is Mauritius kestrel, the rarest falcon in the world)

The golden eagle also a good example of forest birds and one of Switzerland's biggest birds of prey, with a wing span which can go up to a little more than 2 meters (over 7 feet). It feeds mainly off ground-living birds and mammals, especially hares, marmots and foxes. They have excellent eyesight: it has been shown that they can see a hare at distance of one kilometer (more than half a mile).

Water Birds

Aquatic environments provide critical habitat to a wide variety of bird species. Some aquatic birds divide their time between aquatic and terrestrial environments, while others spend most of their lives in water, returning to land only to breed. Many familiar bird groups are aquatic, including gulls and penguins as well as recreational important species such as ducks and geese. Diving birds are one example of water birds. It describes a broad group of species that occupy waters deeper than wading species. These birds dive, plunge, or swim after fish. Wading birds occupy shallow-water habitats in both fresh-water and saltwater environments.3

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The American widgeon is a common marsh duck which spends much of its time in deep water. It is nicknamed "bald pate" because the male has a white stripe on its head.

(The American widgeon is a common marsh duck which spends much of its time in deep water)

Mountain Birds

''The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) is a medium-sized bird weighing about 2-5 ounce, with a length from 15-20 cm (6-8 in). They have light underbellies and black eyes. Adult males have thin bills are bright turquoise-blue and somewhat lighter beneath. Adult females have duller blue wings and tail,fake grey breast, grey crown, throat and back. The Mountain Bluebird is migratory. Their range varies from Mexico in the winter to as far north as Alaska, throughout the western U.S. and Canada. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range; southern birds are often permanent residents. Some birds may move to lower elevations in winter. They inhabit open rangelands, meadows, generally at elevations above 5,000 feet.'' (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

C:\Users\My Computer\Desktop\Mountain_Bluebird.jpg

Habitat

A "habitat" is an ecological or environmental that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds (influences and is utilized by) a species" (Wikipedia, Free encyclopedia). In this section we discussed about habitat fragmentation and habitat selection.2

Habitat fragmentation

As the name implies, it is the emergence of discontinuities (fragmentation) in an organism's preferred environment. Habitat fragmentation can be caused by geological processes that slowly alter the layout of the physical environment or by human activity such as land conversion, which can alter the environment on a much faster time scale (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the encyclopedia of Earth). Habitat fragmentation reduces the size of patches of forest, shrub land, wetlands and grasslands. A consequence of this is to reduce the total area of neighboring habitat available to birds and increases the isolation of the habitat. It also leads to an increase in "edge" habitat that is successfully exploited by a variety of predators that eat bird eggs and young (Campbell, Mike and Johns, Mark).1

Study in Europe and North America confirms that decreasing of reproductive success and food supply observed for the reason of interspecific nest-site competition in relation to wood patch structure. Parental time and energy budgets may also be adversely affected by increased exposure to poor weather conditions in small woods. "Birds in small English woods bred later than pairs in large woods, possibly due to microclimatic effects on vegetation development and invertebrate availability" (HINSLEY, S. A. et al., 2006).

Habitat selection

Habitat selection is the process or behavior that an animal uses to select or choose a habitat in which to live. Birds appear to choose habitats to which they are well adapted in terms of resource exploitation. The selection have many factors, such as landscape structure, can influence exactly how "ideal" and "free" animals are while moving through a landscape and selecting habitats, interference and water were found to be the most influencing factors. One of birds' habitat selection in relation to forest edges, with an emphasis on breeding populations,distinguishing between four main primary causal factors which operate at the local-scale: (1)species-specific differences in resource and patch use, (2) biotic interactions, (3) microclimatic modification and (4) vegetation structure.