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Ornithology is a branch of
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological class ...
that concerns the "methodological study and consequent knowledge of
bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With ...

bird
s with all that relates to them." Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds. It has also been an area with a large contribution made by amateurs in terms of time, resources, and financial support. Studies on birds have helped develop key concepts in biology including evolution, behaviour and ecology such as the definition of
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
, the process of
speciation Speciation is the evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species. The biologist Orator F. Cook coined the term in 1906 for cladogenesis, the splitting of lineages, as opposed to anagenesis, phyletic evolution within ...

speciation
,
instinct Instinct is the inherent inclination of a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms ** extant taxon, Living species, one that is not extinc ...
,
learning Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical thing, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to use concepts to model that thing. Under ...

learning
,
ecological niche In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms ...

ecological niche
s,
guilds A guild is an association of artisan Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand. These objects may be functiona ...
,
island biogeography Insular biogeography or island biogeography is a field within biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organis ...
,
phylogeography Phylogeography is the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the past to present geographic distributions of genealogical lineages. This is accomplished by considering the geographic distribution of individuals in light of ge ...
, and
conservation Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. Conservation may also refer to: Environment and natural resources * Nature conservation, the protection and managem ...
. While early ornithology was principally concerned with descriptions and distributions of species, ornithologists today seek answers to very specific questions, often using birds as models to test hypotheses or predictions based on theories. Most modern biological theories apply across life forms, and the number of scientists who identify themselves as "ornithologists" has therefore declined. A wide range of tools and techniques are used in ornithology, both inside the laboratory and out in the field, and innovations are constantly made. Most biologists who recognise themselves as “Ornithologists” study specific categories, such as Anatomy, Taxonomy, or Ecology lifestyles and behaviours. Though this can be applied to the range of all biological practises


Etymology

The word "ornithology" comes from the late 16th-century Latin ''ornithologia'' meaning "bird science" from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
ὄρνις ''ornis'' ("bird") and λόγος ''logos'' ("theory, science, thought").


History

The history of ornithology largely reflects the trends in the
history of biology The history of biology traces the study of the living world from ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
,
anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living things. It ...

anatomy
,
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
,
paleontology Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene epoch (geology), epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes th ...
, and more recently, molecular biology. Trends include the move from mere descriptions to the identification of patterns, thus towards elucidating the processes that produce these patterns.


Early knowledge and study

Humans have had an observational relationship with birds since
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
, with some stone-age drawings being amongst the oldest indications of an interest in birds. Birds were perhaps important as food sources, and bones of as many as 80 species have been found in excavations of early
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
settlements.
Waterbird A water bird, alternatively waterbird or aquatic bird, is a bird that lives on or around water. In some definitions, the term ''water bird'' is especially applied to birds in freshwater ecosystem Fresh water (or freshwater) is any naturally ...

Waterbird
and
seabird Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the ...

seabird
remains have also been found in
shell mound A midden (also kitchen midden or shell heap) is an old landfill, dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, feces, human excrement, botanical material, mollusc shells, potsherds, Lithic flake, lithics (especially debitage), an ...
s on the island of
Oronsay This is a list of islands called Oronsay (Scottish Gaelic: '), which provides an index for islands in Scotland with this and similar names. It is one of the more common names for Scottish islands. The names come from ''Örfirisey'' which translates ...
off the coast of
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
. Cultures around the world have rich vocabularies related to birds. Traditional bird names are often based on detailed knowledge of the behaviour, with many names being
onomatopoeic Onomatopoeia is the process of creating a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes. Such a word itself is also called an onomatopoeia. Common onomatopoeias include animal noises such as " oink", "meow ...
, and still in use. Traditional knowledge may also involve the use of birds in folk medicine and knowledge of these practices are passed on through oral traditions (see ethno-ornithology). Hunting of wild birds as well as their domestication would have required considerable knowledge of their habits.
Poultry Poultry () are domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable ...

Poultry
farming and
falconry Falconry is the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Small animals are hunted; squirrels and rabbits often fall prey to these birds. Two traditional terms are used to describe a person ...

falconry
were practised from early times in many parts of the world. Artificial incubation of poultry was practised in China around 246 BC and around at least 400 BC in Egypt. The Egyptians also made use of birds in their hieroglyphic scripts, many of which, though stylized, are still identifiable to species. Early written records provide valuable information on the past distributions of species. For instance,
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
records the abundance of the
ostrich ''Struthio'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circums ...

ostrich
in
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
(Anabasis, i. 5); this subspecies from Asia Minor is extinct and all extant ostrich races are today restricted to
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. Other old writings such as the
Vedas upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the '' Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the o ...

Vedas
(1500–800 BC) demonstrate the careful observation of avian life histories and include the earliest reference to the habit of
brood parasitism Brood parasites are organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interact ...
by the
Asian koel#REDIRECT Asian koel
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...

Asian koel
(''Eudynamys scolopacea''). Like writing, the early art of China, Japan, Persia, and India also demonstrate knowledge, with examples of scientifically accurate bird illustrations.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
in 350 BC in his ''
Historia Animalium ''History of Animals'' ( grc-gre, Τῶν περὶ τὰ ζῷα ἱστοριῶν, ''Ton peri ta zoia historion'', "Inquiries on Animals"; la, Historia Animalium, "History of Animals") is one of the major Aristotle's biology, texts on biolo ...
'' noted the habit of
bird migration Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway, between Breeding in the wild, breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of bird migrate. Animal migration, Migration carries high costs in predation and m ...
, moulting, egg laying, and lifespans, as well as compiling a list of 170 different bird species. However, he also introduced and propagated several myths, such as the idea that
swallow The swallows, martins, and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. The term ...

swallow
s hibernated in winter, although he noted that
cranes
cranes
migrated from the steppes of
Scythia Scythia (, ; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
to the marshes at the headwaters of the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile
. The idea of swallow hibernation became so well established that even as late as in 1878,
Elliott Coues Elliott Ladd Coues (; September 9, 1842 – December 25, 1899) was an American army surgeon, historian, ornithologist, and author. He led surveys of the Arizona Territory, and later as secretary of the United States Geological and Geographic ...
could list as many as 182 contemporary publications dealing with the hibernation of swallows and little published evidence to contradict the theory. Similar misconceptions existed regarding the breeding of barnacle geese. Their nests had not been seen, and they were believed to grow by transformations of goose barnacles, an idea that became prevalent from around the 11th century and noted by Bishop Giraldus Cambrensis (
Gerald of Wales Gerald of Wales ( la, Giraldus Cambrensis; cy, Gerallt Gymro; french: Gerald de Barri; ) was a Cambro-Norman Cambro-Normans ( la, Cambria Cambria is a name for Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kin ...
) in '' Topographia Hiberniae'' (1187). Around 77 AD,
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, includi ...

Pliny the Elder
described birds, among other creatures, in his '' Historia Naturalis''. The earliest record of falconry comes from the reign of Sargon II (722–705 BC) in
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
. Falconry is thought to have made its entry to Europe only after AD 400, brought in from the east after invasions by the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
and
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...

Alans
. Starting from the eighth century, numerous Arabic works on the subject and general ornithology were written, as well as translations of the works of ancient writers from Greek and
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...

Syriac
. In the 12th and 13th centuries, crusades and conquest had subjugated Islamic territories in southern Italy, central Spain, and the Levant under European rule, and for the first time translations into Latin of the great works of Arabic and Greek scholars were made with the help of Jewish and Muslim scholars, especially in
Toledo Toledo most commonly refers to: * Toledo, Spain, a city in Spain * Province of Toledo, Spain * Toledo, Ohio, a city in the United States Toledo may also refer to: Places Belize * Toledo District * Toledo Settlement Bolivia * Toledo, Oruro ...
, which had fallen into Christian hands in 1085 and whose libraries had escaped destruction.
Michael Scot Michael Scot (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

Michael Scot
us from Scotland made a Latin translation of Aristotle's work on animals from Arabic here around 1215, which was disseminated widely and was the first time in a millennium that this foundational text on zoology became available to Europeans. Falconry was popular in the
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans, a people partly descended from Norse Vikings who settled in the territory of Normandy in France in the 10th and 11th centuries ** People or things connected with the Norm ...

Norman
court in Sicily, and a number of works on the subject were written in
Palermo Palermo ( , ; scn, Palermu , locally also or ; la, Panormus, from grc, Πάνορμος, Pánormos; older ar, بَلَرْم‎, Balarm) is a city in southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia; nap, 'o Sudde; scn, Italia dû Sud), ...

Palermo
.
Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen
Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen
(1194–1250) learned about an falconry during his youth in Sicily and later built up a
menagerie menagerie during the reign of Louis XIV , house = Bourbon , father = Louis XIII of France , mother = Anne of Austria , birth_date = , birth_place = Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fran ...

menagerie
and sponsored translations of Arabic texts, among which the popular Arabic work known as the '' Liber Moaminus'' by an unknown author which was translated into Latin by Theodore of Antioch from Syria in 1240-1241 as the ''De Scientia Venandi per Aves'', and also Michael Scotus (who had removed to Palermo) translated
Ibn Sīnā
Ibn Sīnā
's ''Kitāb al-Ḥayawān'' of 1027 for the Emperor, a commentary and scientific update of Aristotle's work which was part of Ibn Sīnā's massive '' Kitāb al-Šifāʾ''. Frederick II eventually wrote his own treatise on falconry, the ''
De arte venandi cum avibus ''De Arte Venandi cum Avibus'', literally ''On The Art of Hunting with Birds'', is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken ...

De arte venandi cum avibus
'', in which he related his ornithological observations and the results of the hunts and experiments his court enjoyed performing. Several early German and French scholars compiled old works and conducted new research on birds. These included
Guillaume Rondelet Guillaume Rondelet (27 September 150730 July 1566), also known as Rondeletus/Rondeletius, was Regius professor of medicine at the University of Montpellier in southern France and Chancellor of the University between 1556 and his death in 1566. He ...
, who described his observations in the Mediterranean, and
Pierre Belon Pierre Belon (1517–1564) was a French traveler, naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organ ...
, who described the fish and birds that he had seen in France and the Levant. Belon's ''Book of Birds'' (1555) is a folio volume with descriptions of some 200 species. His comparison of the skeleton of humans and birds is considered as a landmark in
comparative anatomy Comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their ...
.
Volcher Coiter Volcher Coiter (also spelled Coyter or Koyter; 1534 – 2 June 1576) was a Dutch anatomist Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, incl ...
(1534–1576), a Dutch anatomist, made detailed studies of the internal structures of birds and produced a classification of birds, ''De Differentiis Avium'' (around 1572), that was based on structure and habits.
Konrad Gesner Conrad Gessner (; la, Conradus Gesnerus 26 March 1516 – 13 December 1565) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type ...
wrote the ''Vogelbuch'' and ''Icones avium omnium'' around 1557. Like Gesner,
Ulisse Aldrovandi Ulisse Aldrovandi (11 September 1522 – 4 May 1605) was an Italy, Italian natural history, naturalist, the moving force behind Orto Botanico dell'Università di Bologna, Bologna's botanical garden, one of the first in Europe. Carl Linnaeus and t ...
, an encyclopedic naturalist, began a 14-volume natural history with three volumes on birds, entitled ''ornithologiae hoc est de avibus historiae libri XII'', which was published from 1599 to 1603. Aldrovandi showed great interest in plants and animals, and his work included 3000 drawings of fruits, flowers, plants, and animals, published in 363 volumes. His ''Ornithology'' alone covers 2000 pages and included such aspects as the
chicken The chicken (''Gallus gallus domesticus'') is a domestication, domesticated subspecies of the red junglefowl originally from Southeastern Asia. Rooster or cock is a term for an adult male bird, and a younger male may be called a cockerel. A m ...

chicken
and poultry techniques. He used a number of traits including behaviour, particularly bathing and dusting, to classify bird groups. William Turner's ''Historia Avium'' (''History of Birds''), published at
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of Germany, Germany's most populous States of Germany, state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the List of cities in Germany by population, fourth-most populous city and one of t ...

Cologne
in 1544, was an early ornithological work from England. He noted the commonness of
kite A kite is a tether A tether is a cord, fixture, or flexible attachment that characteristically anchors something movable to something fixed; it also maybe used to connect two movable objects, such as an item being towing, towed by its tow. ...

kite
s in English cities where they snatched food out of the hands of children. He included folk beliefs such as those of anglers. Anglers believed that the
osprey The osprey or more specifically the western osprey (''Pandion haliaetus'') — also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal Diurnal ("daily Daily or The Daily may refer to: Journalism * Daily newspaper A newspa ...

osprey
emptied their fishponds and would kill them, mixing the flesh of the osprey into their fish bait. Turner's work reflected the violent times in which he lived, and stands in contrast to later works such as
Gilbert White Gilbert White FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resource ...

Gilbert White
's 1789 ''
The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne ''The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne'', or just ''The Natural History of Selborne'' is a book by English parson-naturalist Gilbert White (1720–1793). It was first published in 1789 by his brother Benjamin White (publisher), Benj ...
'' that were written in a tranquil era. In the 17th century,
Francis Willughby Francis Willughby (sometimes spelt Willoughby) FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in t ...
(1635–1672) and
John Ray John Ray Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS (29 November 1627 – 17 January 1705) was a Christian England, English Natural history, naturalist widely regarded as one of the earliest of the English parson-naturalists. Until 1670, he wrote his na ...

John Ray
(1627–1705) came up with the first major system of bird classification that was based on function and morphology rather than on form or behaviour. Willughby's ''Ornithologiae libri tres'' (1676) completed by John Ray is sometimes considered to mark the beginning of scientific ornithology. Ray also worked on ''Ornithologia'', which was published posthumously in 1713 as ''Synopsis methodica avium et piscium''. The earliest list of British birds, ''Pinax Rerum Naturalium Britannicarum'', was written by Christopher Merrett in 1667, but authors such as John Ray considered it of little value. Ray did, however, value the expertise of the naturalist
Sir Thomas Browne Sir Thomas Browne (; 19 October 1605 – 19 October 1682) was an English polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, ', "having learned much"; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
(1605–82), who not only answered his queries on ornithological identification and nomenclature, but also those of Willoughby and Merrett in letter correspondence. Browne himself in his lifetime kept an eagle, owl, cormorant, bittern, and ostrich, penned a tract on falconry, and introduced the words "incubation" and "oviparous" into the English language. Towards the late 18th century,
Mathurin Jacques Brisson Mathurin Jacques Brisson (30 April 1723 – 23 June 1806) was a France, French zoologist and natural philosophy, natural philosopher. Brisson was born at Fontenay-le-Comte. The earlier part of his life was spent in the pursuit of natural hist ...
(1723–1806) and
Comte de Buffon Georges-Louis Leclerc, Count, Comte de Buffon (; 7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788) was a French people, French Natural history, naturalist, mathematician, cosmology, cosmologist, and Encyclopédistes, encyclopédiste. His works influenced th ...

Comte de Buffon
(1707–1788) began new works on birds. Brisson produced a six-volume work ''Ornithologie'' in 1760 and Buffon's included nine volumes (volumes 16–24) on birds ''Histoire naturelle des oiseaux'' (1770–1785) in his work on science ''Histoire naturelle générale et particulière'' (1749–1804). Jacob Temminck sponsored
François Le Vaillant François () is a French language, French masculine given name and surname, equivalent to the English name Francis (given name), Francis. People with the given name * Francis I of France, King of France (), known as "the Father and Restorer of ...
753–1824to collect bird specimens in Southern Africa and Le Vaillant's six-volume ''Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d'Afrique'' (1796–1808) included many non-African birds. His other bird books produced in collaboration with the artist Barraband are considered among the most valuable illustrated guides ever produced.
Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot Louis Pierre Vieillot (10 May 1748, Yvetot – 24 August 1830, Sotteville-lès-Rouen) was a France, French ornithologist. Vieillot is the author of the first scientific descriptions and Linnaean names of a number of birds, including species he ...
(1748–1831) spent 10 years studying North American birds and wrote the ''Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de l'Amerique septentrionale'' (1807–1808?). Vieillot pioneered in the use of life histories and habits in classification. Alexander Wilson composed a nine-volume work, ''American Ornithology'', published 1808-1814, which is the first such record of North American birds, significantly antedating Audubon. In the early 19th century,
Lewis and Clark Lewis may refer to: Names * Lewis (given name) Lewis () is a masculine English-language given name. It was coined as an anglicisation Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the p ...

Lewis and Clark
studied and identified many birds in the western United States.
John James Audubon John James Audubon (born Jean-Jacques Rabin; April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was an American ornithologist Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the "methodological study and consequent knowledge of birds with all that ...

John James Audubon
, born in 1785, observed and painted birds in France and later in the
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
and
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...

Mississippi
valleys. From 1827 to 1838, Audubon published ''
The Birds of America ''The Birds of America'' is a book by natural history, naturalist and painter John James Audubon, containing illustrations of a wide variety of List of birds of the United States, birds of the United States. It was first published as a series ...
'', which was engraved by Robert Havell Sr. and his son Robert Havell Jr. Containing 435 engravings, it is often regarded as the greatest ornithological work in history.


Scientific studies

The emergence of ornithology as a scientific discipline began in the 18th century, when
Mark Catesby Mark Catesby (24 March 1683 – 23 December 1749) was an English natural history, naturalist who studied flora and fauna in the New World. Between 1729 and 1747 Catesby published his ''Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands ...
published his two-volume ''Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands'', a landmark work which included 220 hand-painted engravings and was the basis for many of the species
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble social class, class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nob ...

Carl Linnaeus
described in the 1758 ''
Systema Naturae ' (originally in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...
''. Linnaeus' work revolutionised bird taxonomy by assigning every species a
binomial name In taxonomy Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience Experience refers to conscious ...
, categorising them into different genera. However, ornithology did not emerge as a specialised science until the Victorian era—with the popularization of natural history, and the collection of natural objects such as bird eggs and skins. This specialization led to the formation in Britain of the
British Ornithologists' Union The British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) aims to encourage the study of birds ("ornithology") and around the world, in order to understand their biology and to aid their conservation biology, conservation. The BOU was founded in 1858 by Professor A ...
in 1858. In 1859, the members founded its journal ''
The Ibis ''Ibis'' (formerly ''The Ibis''), subtitled ''the International Journal of Avian Science'', is the peer review, peer-reviewed scientific journal of the British Ornithologists' Union. It was established in 1859. Topics covered include ecology, conse ...
''. The sudden spurt in ornithology was also due in part to
colonialism Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...

colonialism
. At 100 years later, in 1959, R. E. Moreau noted that ornithology in this period was preoccupied with the geographical distributions of various species of birds. The bird collectors of the Victorian era observed the variations in bird forms and habits across geographic regions, noting local specialization and variation in widespread species. The collections of museums and private collectors grew with contributions from various parts of the world. The naming of species with binomials and the organization of birds into groups based on their similarities became the main work of museum specialists. The variations in widespread birds across geographical regions caused the introduction of trinomial names. The search for patterns in the variations of birds was attempted by many.
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (; 27 January 1775 – 20 August 1854), later (after 1812) von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism German idealism w ...

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
(1775–1854), his student
Johann Baptist von Spix Johann Baptist Ritter von Spix (9 February 1781 – 13 March 1826) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of ...

Johann Baptist von Spix
(1781–1826), and several others believed that a hidden and innate mathematical order existed in the forms of birds. They believed that a "natural" classification was available and superior to "artificial" ones. A particularly popular idea was the
Quinarian system The quinarian system was a method of zoological classification which was popular in the mid 19th century, especially among British naturalists. It was largely developed by the entomologist Entomology () is the scientific Science () is a ...
popularised by
Nicholas Aylward Vigors Nicholas Aylward Vigors (1785 – 26 October 1840) was an Ireland, Irish zoologist and politician. He popularized the classification of birds on the basis of the quinarian system. Early life Vigors was born at Old Leighlin, County Carlow. He s ...
(1785–1840),
William Sharp Macleay #REDIRECT William Sharp Macleay #REDIRECT William Sharp Macleay William Sharp Macleay or McLeay (21 July 1792 – 26 January 1865) was a British civil servant and entomologist. After graduating, he worked for the British embassy in Paris ...
(1792–1865), William Swainson, and others. The idea was that nature followed a "rule of five" with five groups nested hierarchically. Some had attempted a rule of four, but
Johann Jakob Kaup Johann Jakob von Kaup (10 April 1803 – 4 July 1873) was a German naturalist. A proponent of natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') was the philosophy, philosophical study of natu ...
(1803–1873) insisted that the number five was special, noting that other natural entities such as the senses also came in fives. He followed this idea and demonstrated his view of the order within the crow family. Where he failed to find five genera, he left a blank insisting that a new genus would be found to fill these gaps. These ideas were replaced by more complex "maps" of affinities in works by
Hugh Edwin Strickland Hugh Edwin Strickland (2 March 1811 – 14 September 1853) was an English geologist, ornithology, ornithologist, naturalist and systematist. Through the British Association, he proposed a series of rules for the nomenclature of organisms in zoolo ...
and
Alfred Russel Wallace Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 18237 November 1913) was a British natural history, naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution throug ...
. A major advance was made by Max Fürbringer in 1888, who established a comprehensive phylogeny of birds based on anatomy, morphology, distribution, and biology. This was developed further by Hans Gadow and others. The
Galapagos
Galapagos
finch The true finches are small to medium-sized passerine A passerine () is any bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular ...

finch
es were especially influential in the development of
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin (; ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that fu ...

Charles Darwin
's theory of evolution. His contemporary
Alfred Russel Wallace Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 18237 November 1913) was a British natural history, naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution throug ...
also noted these variations and the geographical separations between different forms leading to the study of
biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organisms and biological communities often vary in a regular fashion along geograp ...

biogeography
. Wallace was influenced by the work of
Philip Lutley Sclater Philip Lutley Sclater (4 November 1829 – 27 June 1913) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early ...
on the distribution patterns of birds. For Darwin, the problem was how species arose from a common ancestor, but he did not attempt to find rules for delineation of species. The
species problem The species problem is the set of questions that arises when biologist A biologist is a professional who has specialized knowledge in the field of biology, understanding the underlying mechanisms that govern the functioning of biological system ...
was tackled by the ornithologist
Ernst Mayr Ernst Walter Mayr (; 5 July 1904 – 3 February 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists File:Francesco Redi.jpg, Francesco Redi, the founder of biology, is recognized to be one of the greatest biologists of all t ...
, who was able to demonstrate that geographical isolation and the accumulation of genetic differences led to the splitting of species. Early ornithologists were preoccupied with matters of species identification. Only systematics counted as true science and field studies were considered inferior through much of the 19th century. In 1901,
Robert Ridgway Robert Ridgway (July 2, 1850 – March 25, 1929) was an American ornithologist specializing in systematics. He was appointed in 1880 by Spencer Fullerton Baird, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to be the first full-time curator of birds ...
wrote in the introduction to ''The Birds of North and Middle America'' that: This early idea that the study of living birds was merely recreation held sway until ecological theories became the predominant focus of ornithological studies. The study of birds in their habitats was particularly advanced in Germany with
bird ringing Bird ringing or bird banding is the attachment of a small, individually numbered metal or plastic tag to the leg or wing of a wild bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal ...
stations established as early as 1903. By the 1920s, the ''Journal für Ornithologie'' included many papers on the behaviour, ecology, anatomy, and physiology, many written by
Erwin Stresemann Erwin Friedrich Theodor Stresemann (22 November 1889, in Dresden – 20 November 1972, in East Berlin) was a Germany, German naturalist and ornithologist. Stresemann was an ornithologist of extensive breadth who compiled one of the first and most ...
. Stresemann changed the editorial policy of the journal, leading both to a unification of field and laboratory studies and a shift of research from museums to universities. Ornithology in the United States continued to be dominated by museum studies of morphological variations, species identities, and geographic distributions, until it was influenced by Stresemann's student Ernst Mayr. In Britain, some of the earliest ornithological works that used the word ecology appeared in 1915. ''The Ibis'', however, resisted the introduction of these new methods of study, and no paper on ecology appeared until 1943. The work of
David Lack David Lambert Lack Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS (16 July 1910 – 12 March 1973) was a British evolutionary biologist who made contributions to ornithology, ecology, and ethology. His 1947 book, ''Darwin's Finches'', on the Darwin's Finches, ...
on population ecology was pioneering. Newer quantitative approaches were introduced for the study of ecology and behaviour, and this was not readily accepted. For instance,
Claud Ticehurst Claud Buchanan Ticehurst FRGS (8 January 1881 – 17 February 1941) was a British people, British ornithologist. Early years Born at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex he was a brother of Norman Frederic Ticehurst (1873-1960) and their father was Dr. ...
wrote: David Lack's studies on population ecology sought to find the processes involved in the regulation of population based on the evolution of optimal clutch sizes. He concluded that population was regulated primarily by density-dependent controls, and also suggested that natural selection produces life-history traits that maximize the fitness of individuals. Others, such as Wynne-Edwards, interpreted population regulation as a mechanism that aided the "species" rather than individuals. This led to widespread and sometimes bitter debate on what constituted the "unit of selection". Lack also pioneered the use of many new tools for ornithological research, including the idea of using
radar Radar (radio detection and ranging) is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (''ranging''), angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, Marine radar, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor ...
to study bird migration. Birds were also widely used in studies of the niche hypothesis and
Georgii Gause Georgy Frantsevich Gause (russian: Гео́ргий Фра́нцевич Га́узе; December 27, 1910 – May 2, 1986), was a Soviet and Russian biologist and evolutionist, who proposed the competitive exclusion principle, fundamental to the sc ...
's competitive exclusion principle. Work on resource partitioning and the structuring of bird communities through competition were made by
Robert MacArthur Robert Helmer MacArthur (April 7, 1930 – November 1, 1972) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces ...
. Patterns of
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
also became a topic of interest. Work on the relationship of the number of species to area and its application in the study of
island biogeography Insular biogeography or island biogeography is a field within biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organis ...
was pioneered by
E. O. Wilson Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929), usually cited as E. O. Wilson, is an American biologist Francesco Redi, the founder of biology, is recognized to be one of the greatest biologists of all time A biologist is a professional who has ...
and
Robert MacArthur Robert Helmer MacArthur (April 7, 1930 – November 1, 1972) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces ...
. These studies led to the development of the discipline of
landscape ecology Landscape ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems. This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development spatial patterns, and organizatio ...
. John Hurrell Crook studied the behaviour of
weaverbird Ploceidae is a family of small passerine A passerine () is any bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic o ...
s and demonstrated the links between ecological conditions, behaviour, and social systems. Principles from economics were introduced to the study of biology by Jerram L. Brown in his work on explaining territorial behaviour. This led to more studies of behaviour that made use of cost-benefit analyses. The rising interest in
sociobiology Sociobiology is a field of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology ...
also led to a spurt of bird studies in this area. The study of imprinting behaviour in ducks and geese by
Konrad Lorenz Konrad Zacharias Lorenz (; 7 November 1903 – 27 February 1989) was an Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alp ...

Konrad Lorenz
and the studies of instinct in
herring gull Herring gull is a common name for several birds in the genus ''Larus ''Larus'' is a large genus of gulls with worldwide distribution (by far the greatest species diversity is in the Northern Hemisphere). Many of its species are abundant and w ...

herring gull
s by Nicolaas Tinbergen led to the establishment of the field of ethology. The study of learning became an area of interest and the study of Birdsong, bird songs has been a model for studies in neuroethology. The study of hormones and physiology in the control of behaviour has also been aided by bird models. These have helped in finding the Proximate and ultimate causation, proximate causes of circadian and seasonal cycles. Studies on migration have attempted to answer questions on the evolution of migration, orientation, and navigation. The growth of genetics and the rise of molecular biology led to the application of the gene-centered view of evolution to explain avian phenomena. Studies on kinship and altruism, such as helpers at the nest, helpers, became of particular interest. The idea of inclusive fitness was used to interpret observations on behaviour and life history, and birds were widely used models for testing hypotheses based on theories postulated by W. D. Hamilton and others. The new tools of molecular biology changed the study of bird systematics, which changed from being based on phenotype to the underlying genotype. The use of techniques such as DNA-DNA hybridization to study evolutionary relationships was pioneered by Charles Sibley and Jon Edward Ahlquist, resulting in what is called the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy. These early techniques have been replaced by newer ones based on mitochondrial DNA sequences and molecular phylogenetics approaches that make use of computational procedures for sequence alignment, construction of phylogenetic trees, and calibration of molecular clocks to infer evolutionary relationships. Molecular techniques are also widely used in studies of avian population biology and ecology.


Rise to popularity

The use of field glasses or telescopes for bird observation began in the 1820s and 1830s, with pioneers such as John Freeman Milward Dovaston, J. Dovaston (who also pioneered in the use of bird feeders), but instruction manuals did not begin to insist on the use of optical aids such as "a first-class telescope" or "field glass" until the 1880s. The rise of field guides for the identification of birds was another major innovation. The early guides such as those of History of British Birds, Thomas Bewick (two volumes) and History of British Birds (1843), William Yarrell (three volumes) were cumbersome, and mainly focused on identifying specimens in the hand. The earliest of the new generation of field guides was prepared by Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey, Florence Merriam, sister of Clinton Hart Merriam, the mammalogist. This was published in 1887 in a series ''Hints to Audubon Workers:Fifty Birds and How to Know Them'' in Grinnell's ''Audubon Magazine''. These were followed by new field guides including classics by Roger Tory Peterson. The interest in birdwatching grew in popularity in many parts of the world, and the possibility for amateurs to contribute to biological studies was soon realized. As early as 1916, Julian Huxley wrote a two-part article in ''The Auk'', noting the tensions between amateurs and professionals, and suggested the possibility that the "vast army of bird lovers and bird watchers could begin providing the data scientists needed to address the fundamental problems of biology." The amateur ornithologist Harold F. Mayfield noted that the field was also funded by non-professionals. He noted that in 1975, 12% of the papers in American ornithology journals were written by persons who were not employed in biology related work. Organizations were started in many countries, and these grew rapidly in membership, most notable among them being the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Britain and the Audubon Society in the US, which started in 1885. Both these organizations were started with the primary objective of conservation. The RSPB, born in 1889, grew from a small group of women in Croydon, who met regularly and called themselves the "Fur, Fin, and Feather Folk" and who took a pledge "to refrain from wearing the feathers of any birds not killed for the purpose of food, the ostrich only exempted." The organization did not allow men as members initially, avenging a policy of the British Ornithologists' Union to keep out women. Unlike the RSPB, which was primarily conservation oriented, the British Trust for Ornithology was started in 1933 with the aim of advancing ornithological research. Members were often involved in collaborative ornithological projects. These projects have resulted in atlases which detail the distribution of bird species across Britain. In Canada, citizen scientist Elsie Cassels studied migratory birds and was involved in establishing Gaetz Lakes bird sanctuary. In the United States, the Breeding Bird Surveys, conducted by the US Geological Survey, have also produced atlases with information on breeding densities and changes in the density and distribution over time. Other volunteer collaborative ornithology projects were subsequently established in other parts of the world.


Techniques

The tools and techniques of ornithology are varied, and new inventions and approaches are quickly incorporated. The techniques may be broadly dealt under the categories of those that are applicable to specimens and those that are used in the field, but the classification is rough and many analysis techniques are usable both in the laboratory and field or may require a combination of field and laboratory techniques.


Collections

The earliest approaches to modern bird study involved the collection of eggs, a practice known as oology. While collecting became a pastime for many amateurs, the labels associated with these early egg collections made them unreliable for the serious study of bird breeding. To preserve eggs, a tiny hole was made and the contents extracted. This technique became standard with the invention of the blow drill around 1830. Egg collection is no longer popular; however, historic museum collections have been of value in determining the effects of pesticides such as DDT on physiology. Museum bird collections continue to act as a resource for taxonomic studies. The use of bird skins to document species has been a standard part of systematic ornithology. Bird skins are prepared by retaining the key bones of the wings, legs, and skull along with the skin and feathers. In the past, they were treated with arsenic to prevent fungal and insect (mostly Dermestidae, dermestid) attack. Arsenic, being toxic, was replaced by less-toxic borax. Amateur and professional collectors became familiar with these skinning techniques and started sending in their skins to museums, some of them from distant locations. This led to the formation of huge collections of bird skins in museums in Europe and North America. Many private collections were also formed. These became references for comparison of species, and the ornithologists at these museums were able to compare species from different locations, often places that they themselves never visited. Morphometrics of these skins, particularly the lengths of the tarsus, bill, tail, and wing became important in the descriptions of bird species. These skin collections have been used in more recent times for studies on molecular phylogenetics by the extraction of ancient DNA. The importance of biological type, type specimens in the description of species make skin collections a vital resource for systematic ornithology. However, with the rise of molecular techniques, establishing the taxonomic status of new discoveries, such as the Bulo Burti boubou (''Laniarius liberatus'', no longer a valid species) and the Bugun liocichla (''Liocichla bugunorum''), using blood, DNA and feather samples as the holotype material, has now become possible. Other methods of preservation include the storage of specimens in spirit. Such wet specimens have special value in physiological and anatomical study, apart from providing better quality of DNA for molecular studies. Freeze drying of specimens is another technique that has the advantage of preserving stomach contents and anatomy, although it tends to shrink, making it less reliable for morphometrics.


In the field

The study of birds in the field was helped enormously by improvements in optics. Photography made it possible to document birds in the field with great accuracy. High-power spotting scopes today allow observers to detect minute morphological differences that were earlier possible only by examination of the specimen "in the hand". The capture and marking of birds enable detailed studies of life history. Techniques for capturing birds are varied and include the use of birdlime, bird liming for perching birds, mist nets for woodland birds, cannon netting for open-area flocking birds, the ''bal-chatri'' trap for raptors, decoys and Heligoland trap, funnel traps for water birds. The bird in the hand may be examined and morphometrics, measurements can be made, including standard lengths and weights. Feather moult and skull ossification provide indications of age and health. Sex can be determined by examination of anatomy in some sexually nondimorphic species. Blood samples may be drawn to determine hormonal conditions in studies of physiology, identify DNA markers for studying genetics and kinship in studies of breeding biology and phylogeography. Blood may also be used to identify pathogens and arthropod-borne viruses. Ectoparasites may be collected for studies of coevolution and zoonoses. In many cryptic species, measurements (such as the relative lengths of wing feathers in warblers) are vital in establishing identity. Captured birds are often marked for future recognition. bird ringing, Rings or bands provide long-lasting identification, but require capture for the information on them to be read. Field-identifiable marks such as coloured bands, wing tags, or dyes enable short-term studies where individual identification is required. Mark and recapture techniques make demographic studies possible. Ringing has traditionally been used in the study of migration. In recent times, satellite transmitters provide the ability to track migrating birds in near-real time. Techniques for estimating population density include Avian ecology field methods#Point counts and area searches, point counts, transects, and territory mapping. Observations are made in the field using carefully designed protocols and the data may be analysed to estimate bird diversity, relative abundance, or absolute population densities. These methods may be used repeatedly over large timespans to monitor changes in the environment. Camera traps have been found to be a useful tool for the detection and documentation of elusive species, nest predators and in the quantitative analysis of frugivory, seed dispersal and behaviour.


In the laboratory

Many aspects of bird biology are difficult to study in the field. These include the study of behavioural and physiological changes that require a long duration of access to the bird. Nondestructive samples of blood or feathers taken during field studies may be studied in the laboratory. For instance, the variation in the ratios of stable hydrogen isotopes across latitudes makes establishing the origins of migrant birds possible using mass spectrometry, mass spectrometric analysis of feather samples. These techniques can be used in combination with other techniques such as ringing. The first attenuated vaccine developed by Louis Pasteur, for fowl cholera, was tested on poultry in 1878. Anti-malarials were tested on birds which harbour avian-malarias. Poultry continues to be used as a model for many studies in non-mammalian immunology. Studies in bird behaviour include the use of tamed and trained birds in captivity. Studies on bird intelligence and bird vocalization#Learning, song learning have been largely laboratory-based. Field researchers may make use of a wide range of techniques such as the use of dummy owls to elicit mobbing behaviour, and dummy males or the use of call playback to elicit territorial behaviour and thereby to establish the boundaries of bird territories. Studies of
bird migration Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway, between Breeding in the wild, breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of bird migrate. Animal migration, Migration carries high costs in predation and m ...
including aspects of navigation, orientation, and physiology are often studied using captive birds in special cages that record their activities. The Emlen funnel, for instance, makes use of a cage with an inkpad at the centre and a conical floor where the ink marks can be counted to identify the direction in which the bird attempts to fly. The funnel can have a transparent top and visible cues such as the direction of sunlight may be controlled using mirrors or the positions of the stars simulated in a planetarium. The entire genome of the domestic fowl (''Gallus gallus'') was sequenced in 2004, and was followed in 2008 by the genome of the zebra finch (''Taeniopygia guttata''). Such whole-genome sequencing projects allow for studies on evolutionary processes involved in
speciation Speciation is the evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species. The biologist Orator F. Cook coined the term in 1906 for cladogenesis, the splitting of lineages, as opposed to anagenesis, phyletic evolution within ...

speciation
. Associations between the expression of genes and behaviour may be studied using candidate genes. Variations in the exploratory behaviour of great tits (''Parus major'') have been found to be linked with a gene orthologous to the human gene ''DRD4'' (Dopamine receptor D4) which is known to be associated with novelty-seeking behaviour. The role of gene expression in developmental differences and morphological variations have been studied in Darwin's finches. The difference in the expression of ''Bmp4'' have been shown to be associated with changes in the growth and shape of the beak. The chicken has long been a model organism for studying vertebrate developmental biology. As the embryo is readily accessible, its development can be easily followed (unlike house mouse, mice). This also allows the use of electroporation for studying the effect of adding or silencing a gene. Other tools for perturbing their genetic makeup are chicken embryonic stem cells and viral vectors.


Collaborative studies

With the widespread interest in birds, use of a large number of people to work on collaborative ornithological projects that cover large geographic scales has been possible. These citizen science projects include nationwide projects such as the Christmas Bird Count, Backyard Bird Count, the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the Canadian EPOQ or regional projects such as the Asian Waterfowl Census an
Spring Alive
in Europe. These projects help to identify distributions of birds, their population densities and changes over time, arrival and departure dates of migration, breeding seasonality, and even population genetics. The results of many of these projects are published as bird atlases. Studies of migration using bird ringing or colour marking often involve the cooperation of people and organizations in different countries.


Applications

Wild birds impact many human activities, while domesticated birds are important sources of eggs, meat, feathers, and other products. Applied and economic ornithology aim to reduce the ill effects of problem birds and enhance gains from beneficial species. The role of some species of birds as Pest (organism), pests has been well known, particularly in agriculture. Seed predation, Granivorous birds such as the queleas in Africa are among the most numerous birds in the world, and foraging flocks can cause devastation. Many insectivorous birds are also noted as beneficial in agriculture. Many early studies on the benefits or damages caused by birds in fields were made by analysis of stomach contents and observation of feeding behaviour. Modern studies aimed to manage birds in agriculture make use of a wide range of principles from ecology. Intensive aquaculture has brought humans in conflict with fish-eating birds such as cormorants. Large flocks of pigeons and starlings in cities are often considered as a nuisance, and techniques to reduce their populations or their impacts are constantly innovated. Birds are also of medical importance, and their role as carriers of human diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, West Nile virus, and influenza H5N1 have been widely recognized. Bird strikes and the damage they cause in aviation are of particularly great importance, due to the fatal consequences and the level of economic losses caused. The airline industry incurs worldwide damages of an estimated US$1.2 billion each year. Many species of birds have been driven to List of extinct birds, extinction by human activities. Being conspicuous elements of the ecosystem, they have been considered as indicators of ecological health. They have also helped in gathering support for habitat conservation. Bird conservation requires specialized knowledge in aspects of biology and ecology, and may require the use of very location-specific approaches. Ornithologists contribute to conservation biology by studying the ecology of birds in the wild and identifying the key threats and ways of enhancing the survival of species. Critically endangered species such as the California condor have had to be captured and bred in captivity. Such ex-situ conservation, ''ex situ'' conservation measures may be followed by reintroduction of the species into the wild.


See also

* Avian ecology field methods * Bird observatory * List of birdwatchers * List of ornithological societies * List of ornithologists * List of ornithologists abbreviated names * List of ornithology awards * List of ornithology journals


References


Additional sources

* * * *(Reprinted from the 1884 Encyclopædia Britannica) * *


External links

* Lewis, Daniel. ''The Feathery Tribe: Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds.'' Yale University Press

*
Ornithologie
' (1773–1792) Francois Nicholas Martinet Digital Edition Smithsonian Digital Libraries *
History of ornithology and ornithology collections in Victoria, Australia
on Culture Victoria

{{Authority control Ornithology, Subfields of zoology Scoutcraft