Amazing Facts About Birds For Kids
Kids are always fascinated by birds. Here are some amazing facts about birds like the eagle, peacock, parrot and kingfisher that you can share with your children.
By Arun Sharma
As we were planning on how to celebrate my daughter’s seventh birthday, she blurted, “Papa, can you get me a bird as a gift for my birthday?”
Fascinated by the sight of birds flying about and chirping, as children, quite a few of us would’ve made the same request to our parents. Many of us would’ve also tried to imitate birds flying in the sky by running across open spaces with our arms outstretched.
And, why wouldn’t we? For, a bird flying in the sky is a metaphor for many of our wishes — a life full of happiness and free of worries, the passion to soar high, and the desire to touch the sky and feel the clouds, and freedom from worldly bonds.
It took me a few moments to come up with an answer to my daughter’s request. I began by telling stories about birds. Wonderstruck by them, it did not take her long to express the desire that she also wanted to fly ‘like a bird in the sky’. And, then I asked her, “So, do you think a bird would be happy in a cage?”
My little daughter understood the fact that while god created the sky for birds to fly, it was humans who devised the cage and imprisoned the birds. She dropped her request and I let out a sigh of relief.
Although most of us love birds, we know very little about them. Read this article with your child to understand our feathered friends better and help in their conservation.
The bird family: Evolution of birds, genus and species
Adorned with feathers of many colours and the ability to vocalise different sounds, birds aren’t only a symbol of beauty but also an important part of the ecosystem.
- It is said that humans have evolved from a common primate-like ancestor; but do you know which animal birds have descended from? You will be surprised to know that birds have evolved from the theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period.
- The fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex (T rex), immortalised by the movie ‘Jurassic Park’, was also a theropod.
- During the Jurassic period, around 150 million years ago, dinosaur-like birds called the Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis ruled the skies.
- Although, the age of dinosaurs came to an end, birds survived and kept evolving. Today, there are 142 families of birds.
- A bird family is subdivided into genus. So, the 142 families are further divided into 2,057 genus.
- A genus of birds is again split into species. And, there are approximately 9,702 species of birds.
With so many species, it would take us a lifetime to learn about all of them. However, we tell you some interesting and amazing facts about a few common birds we all know.
There is a sense of mystery and awe surrounding the owl. The bird was regarded as a symbol of wisdom, wealth and fortune in Greek mythology. It was the favourite bird of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Ancient Greeks protected the bird and allowed them to inhabit the temples.
In the Japanese culture too, the owl is considered a symbol of good fortune and positive energy. So, people in Japan often exchange gifts bearing images of an owl. Japanese believe that a pink owl represents love, red owl brings good luck, white owl ushers in happiness, black owl symbolises good health, and a golden owl invites wealth.
But, the Chinese and Indian cultures do not have the same view about the owl. In both these cultures, the owl is considered a bad omen that brings death, disaster and bad luck.
Interesting facts about owls
- A group of owls is called a parliament.
- The talons of owls can exert an incredible grip strength of 500 pounds/sq. inch.
- Fossils of owls prove that they existed even 58 million years ago.
This is one of the most beautiful birds to inhabit our planet. In cultures around the world, the peacock is considered a symbol of beauty, purity, knowledge, good luck and prosperity. According to Indian mythology, the peacock was created from a feather of the bird Garuda, which is also the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The bird is also associated with Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. Lord Krishna used to adorn his headgear with a peacock feather. In Greek mythology, the peacock pulls the chariot of Hera, the goddess of the sky and stars.
When Alexander invaded India, he saw many peacocks on the banks of the river Hyarotis (known as Iravati in Sanskrit and Ravi at present). He became so fond of the bird that he forbade anybody from killing it.
The Mughal Emperor Shahjahan got built for himself a splendid throne with motifs of two peacocks. This throne was encrusted with jewels and was called the Peacock throne.
Interesting facts about peacocks
- The word ‘peacock’ only applies to the male bird. The female is called peahen.
- The colourful tail of a peacock is called a ‘train’.
- The peacock is one of the largest birds that can fly.
Click here to read more about the Peacock
The icy continent of Antarctica in the Southern hemisphere is home to this flightless marine bird. Movies like the ‘Batman’, the ‘March of the Penguins’ and ‘Happy Feet’ have made the penguin famous. Its clumsy walk and cute appearance make it a favourite of both children and adults.
Since the home of the penguin isn’t easy to access, they were discovered by European seafarers around the end of the 15th century. The first mention of penguins is found in the notes of Alvero Vello (1497), a fellow traveller of Vasco da Gama. However, he called this flightless bird the ‘otilicarios’, instead of the ‘penguin’.
A study of penguin fossils indicates that these birds first appeared on the earth around 40 to 60 million years ago.
Interesting facts about penguins
- The world’s smallest penguins are found in New Zealand and Australia.
- Emperor penguins love to dive in the icy water of Antarctica and can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes.
- Although penguins can’t fly, they do have feathers which keep their bodies warm.
“Does it talk?” This is the question that most of us ask as soon as we see a pet parrot. The green coat, red beak and the ability to mimic makes the parrot one of the most sought birds. However, a parrot can not only mimic humans, but also the sound of other birds and gadgets.
There are many folktales in different cultures of the world which mention the parrot’s ability to talk like humans. But, have you ever wondered why only the parrot can talk?
Research has shown that the brain of a parrot is structurally different from other birds. This helps the bird in vocal learning.
Interesting facts about parrots
- Parrots are the only birds that can pick food (and objects) with their feet and bring it up to their mouth to eat.
- Parrots have a long lifespan — the Amazonian parrot can live up to 75 years of age.
- The kakapo is a large parrot which looks like an owl but cannot fly.
The curved beak, the keen eyes, the powerful wings and legs – all give the eagle a majestic appearance. In various cultures across the world, the eagle is considered a symbol of royalty, strength and leadership.
Its powerful wings give it the ability to soar high in the sky. With its powerful vision, an eagle can spot an animal as small as a rabbit from a couple of miles away. With its strong talons, an eagle can exert a grip strength of almost 400 pounds/sq. inch. This is enough to crush the skull and bones of its prey.
Studies conducted on fossils of eagles indicate that they evolved from kites about 36 million years ago. However, the first eagles were seabirds which feasted on fish.
Interesting facts about eagles
- There are around 60 different species of eagles.
- The nest of the bald eagle is about 5 to 6 feet in diameter.
- In the wild, the average life span of an eagle is between 20 and 25 years.
Also read: Interesting Facts About Eagles For Kids
One of the smallest birds, the hummingbird is usually found in the central and southern regions of the American continent. They are not found in India.
The hummingbird has the unique ability to hover in mid-air. And, to do this, the bird has to flap its wings between 15 and 80 times per second. The rapid flapping of wings produces a humming sound from which the bird gets its name.
The hummingbird uses up a tremendous amount of energy moving its wings so fast. As a result, it must eat every couple of minutes, consuming about 1.5 to 3 times its weight of food in a day.
Interesting facts about hummingbirds
- The hummingbird’s heart beats about 1,200 times in a minute.
- During a dive, the hummingbird can attain speeds of up to 60 miles/hour.
- The lifespan of a hummingbird in the wild is between 3 and 5 years.
Although small, this bird is quite popular with bird lovers. Those living in small houses or apartments find the finch the perfect pet. Not only is the finch a low-maintenance bird, it also has a low, soft voice, which doesn’t disturb family members and neighbours.
The finch is a lively and sociable bird. However, it does not thrive well in places where there is a lot noise or activity, as it feels stressed out.
The finch likes variety in its diet. It loves to eat vegetables, fruits and meat. It also loves to play in water. A life span of a wild finch is between 4 and 7 years; however, in captivity, with proper care, the life span of a finch can vary between 5 and 10 years.
Interesting facts about finches
- A flock of finches is called a charm.
- Finches are very social. They also socialise with birds of other species.
- They are herbivores.
“One swallow does not make a summer…” Perhaps one of the few birds to find mention in an idiom, the swallow is a passerine bird. More than 75 species of swallows are found across the world. Of these, the barn swallow is the one that is commonly seen.
In the UK, the arrival of the swallow indicates the beginning of spring and its departure announces the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. The swallow usually inhabits places where there are plenty of insects and open areas, and where there is an adequate supply of water.
A swallow spends most of its time in the air, covering approximately 200 miles in a day. The fastest swallow has been recorded to fly at a speed of 35 miles/hour. Although small, the swallow covers 6,000 miles when migrating between the UK and South Africa. And, this journey is undertaken twice a year!
Interesting facts about swallows
- On an average, a pair of swallows must make 1,200 trips to build their nest.
- When thirsty, a swallow flies low over the surface of water to take a sip.
- Adult male and female swallows are almost identical in size.
What would happen if you were to bang your forehead a few times against a tree trunk? You would get a nasty bump and a severe headache. But, this isn’t the case with the woodpecker, even though, on an average, it lands 20 blows per second when pecking at something.
The woodpecker’s skull dissipates the shock of the impact and there are air pockets within the skull that act like cushions and protect the brain.
The woodpecker makes holes in trees to eat grubs hiding under the bark. It has a barbed tongue and sticky saliva which helps it pull the insects out.
Easily recognisable due to its long beak, there are over 200 species of woodpeckers. They are found everywhere except in the Arctic and the Antarctic circles, in Australia and Madagascar.
Interesting facts about woodpeckers
- The woodpecker’s tongue is thrice the length of its bill.
- When retracted, the tongue wraps around the woodpecker’s skull.
- The Great Slaty woodpecker is the largest bird among the species, with a size between 45 and 50cm. In India, this woodpecker is found in the foothills of the Himalayas.
A medium-sized bird with brightly-coloured feathers, the kingfisher is found across the globe. It usually inhabits areas around slow-flowing waterbodies like lakes and rivers that are surrounded by bushes or vegetation.
Blessed with a sharp eyesight, the kingfisher has both monocular and binocular vision. This gives the kingfisher the ability to judge the distance of its prey moving under water. Apart from feeding on fishes, the kingfisher also eats insects, frogs, molluscs and spiders.
Both male and female kingfishers are of the same size. However, while the beak of the male is black, the female has an orange-coloured lower beak.
Interesting facts about kingfishers
- The African pygmy kingfisher is the smallest bird of the species and measures only 10cm in length.
- Instead of building nests with twigs or leaves, the kingfisher lives in burrows made in tree trunks or mounds of earth.
- The laughing kookaburra is the most famous kingfisher and is native to eastern Australia.
Also read: Fun Facts About the Kingfisher Bird For Kids
This bird is a member of the waterfowl family. It has a large and heavy body, with a size that is between the swan and the duck. There are around 29 species of geese found around the world.
Members of the species have white, grey and black-coloured feathers. However, some of them also have spots on their feathers.
Being a hardy bird, the average lifespan of a goose is between 10 and 25 years. However, with good care, in captivity, a goose’s lifespan can even extend beyond this.
Some species of geese migrate every year. And while flying, a group adopts a ‘V-shaped’ formation.
Interesting facts about geese
- A flock of geese in water or land is called gaggles. However, while in the air, a flock is called skein.
- The male of the species is called a gander while the female is called a goose.
- This bird is very social and can get along with other animals when raised with them.
Birds aren’t just a beautiful creation of nature, they are also an important part of our ecosystem. From keeping the environment free of pests and insects to pollinating the flowers, birds do a lot of things for us. Let’s appreciate the role of our little friends and extend a helping hand to protect and nurture them.
About the author:
Written by Arun Sharma on 6 January 2020
The author was associated with the healthcare industry before becoming a full-time writer and editor. A doting father to two preteens, he believes in experiential learning for his children. Also, he loves mountain trekking and nature trips.
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