Glossary

 
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© Sumit K Sen


Glossary of Bird Terminology
by Bikram Grewal

 

 

  • Adult  Mature, Capable of breeding.

  • Aerial  Making use of the open sky.

  • Altitudinal migrant  Moving between high mountains and lower foothills.

  • Apical  Outer extremities, particularly of the tail.

  • Aquatic  Living on or in water.

  • Arboreal  Living in trees.

  • Axillaries  Underwing feathers at the base of the wings, forming ‘armpits’

  • Basal  Innermost extremities, particularly of the tail.

  • Biotope  Area of uniform environment, flora and fauna.

  • Buff  Yellowish white with a hint of pale brown.

  • Canopy  Leafy foliage of treetops.

  • Cap  Upper part of head.

  • Carpal  Bend of a closed wing, sometimes called shoulder.

  • Casque  Growth above bill of hornbills.

  • Cere  Patch of bare skin on upper base of bill of raptors.

  • Colonial  Roosting or nesting in groups.

  • Confiding  Not shy.

  • Commensal  Living together with man for mutual benefit

  • Coverts  Small feathers on wings and base of tail.

  • Covey  Small group of partridges and allied species.

  • Crepuscular  Active at dusk (twilight) and dawn.

  • Crest  Extended feathers on head.

  • Crown  Upper part of head.

  • Culmen  Ridge on upper mandible of bill.

  • Diagnostic  Sufficient to identify a species or sub-species.

  • Dimorphic  Having two forms of plumage.

  • Diurnal  Active during daytime.

  • Drumming  Rhythmic territorial hammering on trees by woodpeckers

  • Eclipse  New dull plumage after breeding season, especially in ducks.

  • Endemic  Indigenous and confined to a place.

  • Eyestripe  Stripe through eye.

  • Family  Specified group of genera.

  • Feral  Escaped, and living and breeding in the wild.

  • Fledged  Having just acquired feathers and ready to leave nest.

  • Fledglings  Young birds which have just acquired feathers.

  • Flight feathers  Primary and secondary wing feathers.

  • Flushed  When disturbed into flight at close quarters.

  • Form  Sub-species.

  • Frugivorous  Fruit-eating.

  • Fulvous  Brownish-yellow.

  • Game birds  Pheasants, partridges and allied species.

  • Gape  Basal part of the beak (mainly for young birds and raptors).

  • Genera  Plural of genus.

  • Genus  Group of related species.

  • Gorget  Band across upper chest.

  • Granivorous  Grain-eating.

  • Gregarious  Sociable. Living in communities or flocks.

  • Hackles  Long and pointed neck feathers.

  • Hawking  Capturing insects in flight

  • Hepatic  Rust or liver coloured plumage phase, mainly in female cuckoos

  • Hunting party  Group of birds usually of different species, seeking food.

  • Immature  Plumage phases prior to adult

  • Iris  Coloured eye membrane surrounding pupil.

  • Irruption  Mass movement of a population from one place to another.

  • Jizz  Essence or striking characteristics of a species;

  • Juvenile  Immature bird immediately after leaving nest.

  • Leading edge  Front edge of wing.

  • Lobe  Fleshy extensions to side-edges of toes of some birds.

  • Local  Unevenly distributed.

  • Lores  Area between eye and bill base.

  • Malar  Stripe on side of throat.

  • Mandible  Each of the two parts of bill.

  • Mantle  Back, between wings.

  • Mask  Dark plumage round eye and ear-coverts.

  • Migration  Seasonal movement between distant places.

  • Mirror  White spots in wing-tips, mainly of gulls.

  • Morph  One of several distinct types of plumage in the same species.

  • Moult  Seasonal shedding of plumage.

  • Nape  Back of neck.

  • Necklace  Narrow line round neck.

  • Nocturnal  Active at night.

  • Nomadic  Species without specific territory except when breeding.

  • Nominate  First sub-species to be formally named.

  • Orbital ring  Narrow ring of skin or feathers round the eye.

  • Order  Group of related families.

  • Passerines  Perching and song birds.

  • Pectoral  Breast area.

  • Pied  Black and white.

  • Plumes  Long, showy feathers, acquired during the breeding season

  • Precocial  Young hatched sighted and down-covered, e.g. ducklings.

  • Primaries  Outer flight feathers in wing.

  • Race  Sub-species.

  • Raptors  Birds of prey and Vultures, excluding owls.

  • Record  Published, or otherwise broadcast, occurrence.

  • Resident  Non-migratory and breeding in same place.

  • Rufous  Reddish brown.

  • Rump  Lower back.

  • Scalloped  Curved markings on edges of feathers.

  • Scapulars  Feathers along edge of mantle.

  • Secondaries  Inner wing feathers.

  • Speculum  Area of colour on secondary feathers of wings.

  • Streamers  Long extensions to feathers, usually of tail.

  • Sub-species  Distinct form that does not have specific status.

  • Sub-terminal band  Broad band on outer part of feather.

  • Supercilia  Plural of supercilium.

  • Supercilium  Streak above eye.

  • Terminal band  Broad band on tip of feather or tail.

  • Terrestrial  Ground living.

  • Tertials  Innermost wing coverts, often covering secondaries.

  • Trailing edge  Rear edge of wing.

  • Vagrant  Accidental, irregular.

  • Vent  Undertail area.

  • Vermiculations  Wavy (worm-like) markings.

  • Vinaceous  Red wine coloured. Warm pink.

  • Waders  Shorebirds. Usually, the smaller, long-legged waterbirds.

  • Wattle  Bare skin, often coloured, on part of head.

  • Wildfowl  Ducks and geese.

  • Wing-span  Length from one wing tip to the other when fully extended.

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