Features of Avian Superorder Neognathae, Biology tutorial

Features of Avian Superorder Neognathae:

The superorder Neognathae includes 27 orders that have total of approx 10,000 species. Neognathae have undergone adaptive radiation to generate staggering diversity of form (particularly of bill and feet), function.

Order: Strigiformes (owls):

Owls are easy to recognize. They contain almost human appearance, with the upright posture, large rounded head, and large eyes which face forward. Every owl is carnivores (meat-eaters), and many adaptations make them efficient hunters, comprising hooked beak for tearing flesh and strong feet tipped with sharp talons (claws). Toes used in the two-forward, two- backward arrangement for good grip on prey. Feathers are extraordinarily soft, permitting for silent flight. Most owls are nocturnal, active at night and asleep by day. Eyes are enclosed in ring of bone and cannot move freely, so owls should turn entire head to look sideways.

Order: Galliformes (fowl):

They are medium to large in size, with stocky body, small head, and short wings. These birds comprise turkeys, quails and chickens,. Quails are smallest species, weighing less than 20 grams and measuring only 12 to 15 cm. Galliformes have short bills which usually curve downward to help in pecking plant material from ground. Their feet are big and powerful - so powerful that they can move weighty branches or stone. Fowl is word for birds generally but refers to birds belonging to one of two biological orders, that is the gamefowl or landfowl (Galliformes) and waterfowl (Anseriformes) that are closely related. Several birds which are eaten by humans are fowl, comprising poultry like chickens or turkeys, game birds like pheasants or partridges.

Order: Columbiformes (doves and pigeons):

This is very familiar order with members like pigeons and doves. These birds are compact having broad, rounded, powerful wings; short bills; short legs; and short necks. Males are likely to be slightly larger than females in size. Several pigeon and dove species are brown, grey, or cream in color. Though, some tropical species may be green, purple, blue, orange, red, pink, or.

Order: Psittaciformes (parrots and allies):

Parrots are very familiar birds due to their brightly colored plumage (feathers), intelligence, and skill to imitate human voices, that improves their popularity as pets. Many have green feathers, and several parrots are blue, yellow, and red. Parrots contain large heads, short necks, and curved beaks. They utilize their hooked beaks to crack nuts and grab branches.

Order: Sphenisciformes (penguins):

Penguins are group of aquatic, flightless birds living approximately exclusively in southern hemisphere, particularly in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in water, penguins contain counter shaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have turn into flippers. They spend approx half of their life on land and half in oceans. Though all penguin species are native to southern hemisphere, they are not discovered only in cold climates, like Antarctica. Many species are found in temperate zone, and one species, Galápagos Penguin, lives near equator. Penguins always return to ancestral nesting sites to lay eggs and rear their young.

Order: Coraciiformes (kingfishers and allies):

Coraciiformes are quite large order characterized by syndactyl feet (three forward pointing toes) and long, pointed bills. Birds in order are generally colorful, contain one mate partner (monogamous) and nest in cavities. Their young are weak and depend on parent for food (altricial) and maintain waxy sheaths on feathers until just before fledging. Many birds in given order are carnivorous. Kingfishers are group of small to medium-sized brightly colored birds in order Coraciiformes. There are about 90 species of kingfisher. All contain short legs, large heads, sharp, long, pointed beaks, and stubby tails.

Order: Piciformes (woodpeckers and allies):

Piciformes are small to medium-sized, hole-nesting land birds. Bill is short to straight, medium-long, and strong, and wings are of medium length and rounded. Legs are short and strong, with strong toes arranged in the zygodactylous (yoke) pattern, with 2 toes forward and 2 toes back. Tail may have stiffened feathers. Most species feed on insects. Eggs are incubated by both sexes, and both parents care for unfeathered young, that remain in nests. Except for few species of woodpeckers, piciformes are non-migratory. Members of this order contain strong bills (same as beaks) for drilling and drumming on trees and long sticky tongues for taking out food. Woodpecker bills are normally sharp, long and strong with chisel-like tip; tip is kept sharp by pecking/hammering action on wood.

Order: Anseriformes (waterfowl) Members are strong swimmers with medium to large bodies. They are significant food source for humans. A recognized member of this order is domestic duck that is at times kept as pet. Few definitions of term waterfowl comprise saltwater shorebirds or gulls, herons, waders, and pelicans, and seabirds like albatross; but fowl specially refers to birds employed by humans for game.

Order: Phoenicopteriformes (flamingos):

Flamingos or flamingoes are type of wading bird found in Americas and in Old World. Flamingos are 3-5 feet tall and contain long legs, long, bent bills and long necks. Many species are pink, white, or red and are originated in tropical fresh and salt water lagoons and lakes. Flamingos frequently stand on one leg while resting. They are filter feeders and are exclusively adapted to feed on algae and small shellfish. Flamingos contain 2 rows of lamellae or comb-like bristles which line inside of their bills. They also have bristles on their tongues which help filter food out of the water. Flamingos dwell in large flocks which can comprise thousands of birds.

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