Feathered Obsessions
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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Avian Terms


Albino- An abnormality causing lack of and no pigment
Albumin- Protein that is water soluable, Egg White
Altricial- A bird born without the ability to feed it's self, without feathers, or the ability to see
Avian -  To relate or pertain to birds in some manner
Aviary- A structure used as a house to birds
Aviculture - The culture around those who are involved in bird breeding, ownership, and conservation
Axillary- Ventral area between the body and the wing


Banded- When a bird has a plastic or metal band used to identify it's owner, breeding stock, or other information
Beak Trimming- Cutting back a small amount of the beak to help a bird eat, prevent it from injuring other birds, or other medical reasons
Blood Feather- A feather that is still in the process of developing and has blood in the shaft
Bonking- When a bird is startled and jumps straight up in a natural instinct to avoid capture and hits it's head on the artificial roof of a cage or aviary
Brood- A group or number of young chicks hatched at one time
Brooder- An artificial structure that is heated and secured to raise newly hatched chicks in
Brooding- When adult birds sit on a nest of eggs in order to hatch them


Calamus- The shaft of the feather
Candling- Using a bright light source to view the development of an embryo in an egg
Cap- Top of the birds crown
Caruncle- A growth of flesh on a birds head and/or neck
Cere- Upper part of a birds beak that includes the birds nares
Chalaza- A spring like part of the egg that helps keep the yolk centered
Chorioallantois- Vascular membrane
Clipping Wings- Cutting part of the flight feathers of a birds wings to disable some flight
Cloaca- fecal, urinary, and reproductive system of birds
Clutch- A group or number of chicks hatched and raised at teh same time
Comb- Typically found in male birds , is a colored area of skin over the eye
Covey- A family group of birds such as quail and/or partridge
Crop- Muscular pouch on a birds throat used to store food to be digested later


Dihedral- Such as when a bird is gliding the V shape it holds it's wings
Dimorphic- Sex of the bird can be told visually such as feather coloring
Display- When a sexually mature bird dances, offers treats, expands feathering, makes mating calls in order to attract a mate
Domestic- A bird that was bred locally though the species is from another country
Down- Insulative soft fluffy feathers found underneath a birds outermost feathering
Droppings- When a bird excretes fecal matter and urine
Dusting- When a bird flaps and rolls in a powdery dirt covering it's self in an effort to ward off parasites


Ecdysis- Shedding or molting of all feathers (scales, fur, etc)
EcoSystem- All of the factors that make up and effect a single enviroment
Egg Bound- When a female bird has an egg stuck in her reproductive system. Can be caused by illness, stress, injury.
Embryo- Earliest stage of cell development. From the first cellular division to birth
Endangered- A species that has so few living numbers that it is not expected to exist in the future on it's present course
Endysis- The growth of new feathers (scales, fur, etc)


Feral- Wild and not tame around humans
Fledgling- A young bird who has just grown in it's flight feathers
Flight Feathers- The longest feathers on a birds wind that allow it to fly
Forced Air Incubator- An incubator with a fan
Fright Flight- When a bird is startled and frantically flies in a quick burst from the area it was in to elude capture


Genotype- Genetic makeup
Gizzard- A muscle a bird uses to grind up it's food
Goiter- Illness causing swollen thyroid glands in birds
Gorget- The throat area of a bird
Gout- Illness that causes either internal swelling or swelling of joints as well as causes the kidneys to no longer properly function
Grit- Small course material such as rocks that helps a bird digest it's food


Hatchling- A chick that has just emerged from it's egg
Hen- A female bird
Hot Spots- Areas in an still air incubator that stay hotter than others because of lack of air circulation and distance from the heating element
Humidity- The percentage of water vapor in the air
Hybrid- A cross between two sperate species


Incubation- When an egg is kept warm and in proper humidity by an adult bird or an artificial incubator in order to develop the embryo enough to hatch
Iridescent- Colors that can be seen in feathering that seem to change in light
Iris- The colored part of an eye
Iteroparous- Has multiple reproductive cycles before dying


Jugulum- Throat
Juvenile- A young bird


Keel- A bone running down the bird chest
Keet- A shortened term used for Parakeets


 Lock Down- A term used for the last few days of incubation in an artificial incubator during which the incubator troughs are filled with water to increase humidity, the eggs are no longer turned, and the incubator is opened the least amount possible to keep the temperature and humidity steady
Lore- Area where the patch in many birds is under the eye and above the bill


Mantle- Upper back and wing area of a bird that has a shorter feather covering it
Melanistic- A heavy deposits of melanin causing a dark coloring
Migrate- A group or species moving from one area to another, sometimes for avoiding cold winters and hot summers
Molt- Shedding of feathers and growing in new feathering
Monomorphic- When sex is not able to be identified visually by feather color nor other distinctions
Morph- Variations of color
Mutation- A Variation of a species color


Nape- Back of the birds neck
Nares- Birds nostrils
Necropsy- Study after death to determine deaths cause
Nest- Area where eggs are laid and the adults incubate


Oology- Study and collection of eggs
Ornithology- The scientific study of birds


Parasitic- Taking resources from another individual
Pennaceous- Feather type containing calamus, rachis, vanes, barbs that is present in most modern birds
Phenotype- Observable characteristics and traits
Pigment- Coloring of a bird such as it's feathers , iris, skin, legs
Plumage- A birds feathers
Plumes- Large vibrant showy feathers often used to attract a mate
Polygynous- Mating with multiple females
Poultry- Birds kept for eggs, feathers, and meat production
Precocial- A baby bird who is hatched with the ability to feed it's self and move on it's own
Predator- Individual who hunts another
Preening- When a bird aligns and organizes it's feathers
Prey- Individual who is hunted
Primaries- Flight feathers


Quarantine- To keep a bird seprate from others to make sure it is not ill or to keep a known illness out of a flock
Quick- Area of a nail or beak that has blood flow to it


Rachis- solid area of the feather shaft
Refugium- Isolated area for a bird population
Regurgitation- When a bird vomits up part of their food to share with chicks or other birds in the flock
Riparian- Strip of land on a waters edge


Semelparity- Reproduces just once before dying
Snood- Flap of skin that lays over the turkeys beak
Splay Legs- When a hatchlings legs are not underneath it but to it's sides. Usually with it's hips displaced
Spurs- Sharp, horn like point often found on male birds such as chickens and turkeys
Still Air Incubator- An artificial incubator that does not have a fan
Stress Bars- A line that can be seen on the shaft of a feather. Sometimes this line can be a clue to stress in the bird. Be it food, lighting, water, and other environmental stressors
Stress Molt- WHen a bird is under stress and drops feathers
Sunning- When a bird lays in the sunning spreading out to warm up or even dry off


Tarus- The area from the knee to the ankle of a birds leg
Taxonomy- Naming groups of living organisms
Temperature- The degree of heat and/or cool
Territory- An area a bird will defend
Toweling- Restraining a bird by wrapping it in a towel


Upper Wing- Visible part of the wing when looking down on a birds back


Vane- Area of the feather that is thin and flat
Vent- The single opening of a birds both anus and cloaca
Vent Sexing- A technique of opening the vent to determine the bird gender
Vertebrate- Animals having a backbone


Wattles- Fleshy dewlap protruding from the head/neck area
Wetlands- Area in which the saturation of water determines the soil and plants that can be sustained there


Xeric- A Arid Habitat


 Yolk- The yellow part of the egg containing germinal cells


Zoology- The study of Animal life
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