Glossary Of Bird Parts


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Ear coverts

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Uppertail coverts

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Undertail coverts

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Auriculars: also known as ear coverts, the feathers related to the ear opening, extending backward and downward from the eye, bound dorsally by the supercilium and crown and ventrally by the malar area.

Back: leathering of the thoracic portion of the dorsum, bound by the nape, base of the wings, mantle and rump.

Belly: area below the breast and reaching to the vent. These feathers overlap the bases of the undertail coverts.

Cere: the fleshy, often brightly coloured, structure at the base of the bill.

Chin: ventral leathering below the bill ending where throat begins.

Crest: the tuft of elongated feathers on the head of some species. The feathers are held erect by the bird most of the time or are capable of being erected.

Crissum: also called the undertail coverts, the contour feathers behind the vent covering the bases of the retrices.

Crown: behind the forehead, bound behind by the anterior end of the neck vertebrae and laterally by the supercilium.

Culmen: the upper edge or ridge of upper mandible.

Eye-ring: the ring of colour around the eye, also called the orbital ring.

Flank: also called the side, the lateral portion of the breast leathering covering the side of the body up to the base of the wing and extending back to overlap the bases of the flank feathers.

Forehead: the dorsal, anterior portion of the head, bound posteriorly by a line between the anterior and the edges of the eye openings and separated from the eye by the anterior end of the supercilium and below by a line from the dorsal edge of the nostril to the middle, of the eye. The feathers are usually short and do not extend far beyond the given line along the posterior margin.

Gape: the area where the base of the bill joins the face.

Gonys: the lower edge of lower mandible.

Greater coverts: a single row of feathers much larger than the median coverts that fall into two series. The first (Greater primary coverts) cover the base of the primaries. The second series (Greater secondary coverts) usually consists of one covert feather for each of the secondaries (plus tertiaries).

Gular Pouch: also called the Gular Sac, a skin pouch of the throat found in some species, most obvious in the pelicans. Less conspicuous gular sacs are found in cormorants, owls, pheasants and pigeons.

Hallux: the hind toe.

Lesser coverts: the few rows of small feathers on the upper surface, largely confined to the anterior patagium. The lesser and median coverts together are usually called the “shoulder”.

Lower mandible: lower half of the bill. The bill is a bony outgrowth from the skull covered with horny sheaths of keratin.

Lores: ventral to the forehead and supercilium, extending from the narials (if present), to the eye, bound below by the rictal bristles (if present), and posteriorly by a line from the angle of the gape to the anterior point of eye.

Malar area: extending backwards from the hind margin of the nail, ventral to the rictal bristles, lores, eyelid, and auriculars and dorsal to the throat. The area extends backwards as far as the posterior end of the ear coverts.

Mantle: area between the back and the nape.

Median coverts: also known as the middle coverts, on the extended wing a single row of larger feathers following the lesser coverts and cover the base of the secondary feathers. The middle coverts may not be distinguishable from the lesser coverts and are sometimes missing.

Moustachial stripe: a streak extending backwards and downwards from the base of the bill, above the malar region. Also called a ‘whisker’. A similar streak immediately below it is called a ‘sub-moustachial stripe’, while a still lower one is a ‘malar stripe’.

Nail: end of the bill

Nape (hindneck): dorsal feathering of the neck, bound by the throat and upper breast. These feathers extend over the base of the back feathers.

Narial leathering: a group of small bristly feathers projecting forward to hang over the nostril, collectively called Narials.

Primary wings: also called the Primaries, these quills related to the hand and digits segment of the wing.

Remiges: flight feathers.

Retrices: a single transverse row of quills on the margin of the anatomical tail.

Rictal bristles: a row of outwardly directed, bristly feathers extending forward from the gape along the edge of the maxilla and, sometimes, the mandible.

Rimal leathering: one or two rows of small feathers on the eyelids.

Rump: also called uropygium, a leathering of the sacral portion of the back. The most posterior feathers arise in front of the oil gland. This area is bound laterally by the flanks and posteriorly by the uppertail coverts. The feathers usually extend far enough to overlap the bases of the tail feathers.

Scapulars: the feathers which cover the shoulder of a bird where the upperwing joins the body.

Secondary wings: related to the forearm segment of the wing.

Semi-palmated: having half webbing between the toes.

Speculum: term given to the patch of brightly colored or metallic secondary feathers of the wings, found in most surface-feeding, or dabbling ducks.

Superciliary: narrow band of feathers passing from near the anterior point of the eye, over the eye to near its posterior point. Separated from the eye by the rimal leathering and the apterlure of the upper eyelid. Also called Supercilium.

Tarsus: region of the leg between thigh and toe

Tertiary wings: the posterior humeral feathers.

Thigh: area of leg above the Tarsus and extending to the belly.

Throat: ventral leathering of the neck from the chin to the forking of the ventral feather tract, bounded dorsally by the malar area.

Uppertail coverts: a single, semicircular row of feathers arising behind the oil gland close to the rectrices.

Upper mandible: upper half of the bill. The bill is a bony outgrowth from the skull covered with horny sheaths of keratin.

Vent: the area around the cloaca, just behind the legs.

Wing bars: most common in some passerine species, the lighter colored tips of the upper wing coverts which appear as narrow bars in the folded wings.

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