Ornithology

Course CodeBEN102
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
  

DISCOVER THE AMAZING WORLD OF BIRDS!


Learn with us what is a bird, how they evolved, what adaptations they developed to be able to colonize air, land and water so successfully! This course is designed for people working or wishing to work with birds and animals, life scientists and environmental researchers and consultants, amateur bird watchers, or anyone working with birds.

The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the many interesting and diverse bird species, and their physiology and habitats. You will learn a wide variety of bird facts, through a combination of tools such as reading, interacting with tutors, undertaking research and practical tasks, and observing birds!
 
IDENTIFY BIRDS, MANAGE BIRDS, UNDERSTAND BIRDS

Comments from ACS student: "Yes [the course was a valuable learning experience], very much, since I love to work with birds. I have learned a lot from this course. It is also a very fun and enriching experience. [My tutor] is extremely helpful." Sheila Holliday, Australia, Ornithology course.

 


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Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Classification and Introduction to Bird watching.
    • Nature and scope of ornithology (over 9,000 species)
    • Place of Birds in Nature
    • Bird Classification (Aves, Ratitae, Carinate)
    • Use of common names and scientific names
    • Fossil or Extinct Birds
    • Classes and Sub Classes
    • Comparing characteristics of different Super orders
    • Comparing characteristics of all major bird Families
    • Resources for further information
    • Bird Watching equipment
  2. The Biology of Birds.
    • Anatomical features
    • Skeleton
    • Feathers
    • Feather Colour
    • Wings
    • Wing Types (elliptical, high speed, long soaring, high lift)
    • Legs and Feet
    • Beaks and Bills
    • Internal Structure
    • Respiration
    • Excretion
    • Digestion
    • Circulation
    • Senses
    • Avian Behaviours (Flight, Diving, Reproduction, Courtship, Bonding, Territoriality, Nesting)
    • Formation of Eggs and Hatching
    • Feeding
    • Vocalisations
    • Migration
    • Habitats
  3. Common and Widespread Land Birds.
    • Eagles and Relatives; Carthatidae (New World vultures, condors)
    • Pandionidae (osprey)
    • Accipitridae (hawks, eagles, kites)
    • Sagittariidae (secretary bird)
    • Falconidae (falcons, caracaras)
    • Crows and their Relatives
    • Butcher birds, Currawongs and related birds
    • Pigeons (structure, feeding, breeding, types)
    • Doves
    • The Dodo
    • Cuckoos
    • Pest and Introduced Birds (for man countries); Indian Mynah, Sparrow, Thrush, Starling, etc
  4. Giant Birds and Long Legged Birds
    • Ratitites; Ostrich, Emu, Moa, Rhea, Cassowary, Kiwi, South American Tinamous, extinct giant Elephant bird and Dodo
    • Herons, Storks and relatives
  5. Seabirds and Water birds.
    • Anseriformes; ducks, geese, swans etc
    • Gruiformes; cranes, coots, mud hens, rails
    • Charadriiformes; sandpipers, snipes, curlews, plovers, dotterels, etc
    • Gaviiformes; divers
    • Gulls, Skuas, Orks, Puffins, Terns
    • Tube Nosed Birds
    • Albatrosses
    • Petrels, Storm Petrels and Diving Petrels
    • Pelicans and Relatives
    • Gannets
    • Cormorants
    • Boobies, Frigate Birds, Tropic Birds
    • Penguins
  6. Hunters -Birds of Prey, Owls, and Kingfishers.
    • Eagles
    • Eagle species
    • Hawks
    • Kites
    • Osprey
    • Falcons
    • Vultures
    • Owls
    • Breeding behaviours of birds of prey
    • Kingfishers
  7. Passeriformes.
    • Scope of "songbirds" or "perching birds".
    • Features common to Passeriformes
    • Varieties of Passeriformes (Primitive and Advanced)
    • Muscicapidae; thrush
    • Robins
    • Flycatchers, Larks, Pippits, Wingtails
    • Swallows and Martins; physical characteristics, breeding and nesting
    • Fringilllidae; finches
  8. Other Birds.
    • Parrots; structure, feeding, breeding, species
    • Honeyeaters, Swifts
    • Galliformes; chicken.
    • Other Orders
  9. Attracting, Feeding and Keeping Birds.
    • How plants benefit birds
    • Plants that attract birds
    • Feeding Birds
    • Bird Care; parasites, catching and handling, caring for a sick bird
    • Common Ailments

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Discuss the study of birds, including bird taxonomy
  • Describe anatomical and physical characteristics of birds.
  • Discuss a range of different common and widespread land birds.
  • Discuss a range of different flightless and long legged birds including Ratites and Ciconiiformes.
  • Discuss and describe a range of water birds and sea birds.
  • Discuss and describe a range of hunting birds.
  • Discuss and describe a range of Passeriformes.
  • Discuss and describe a range of parrots and other birds..
  • Explain domestication of birds and the methodology and implications of attracting and feeding wild birds.

What You Will Do

  • Contact a Birdwatching Club or organisation in your own country, or region of the world, and find out what services and information they offer. You may locate groups on the internet, or listed under clubs and organisations in the Yellow Pages section of your phone book. You might contact them on the phone, or by email, by letter; or by attending a meeting.
  • Write a brief history of the evolution of birds mentioning of species that have become extinct and give reasons as to why you think this occurred.
  • Research and discuss the breeding cycle of one particular bird species (of your own choosing), then identify any traits or behavioural patterns that are unique to this species
  • Select different birds from groups studied, and research each different bird using any resources you have available to you, such as textbooks, the internet, libraries, etc. Write a paragraph describing each of the six birds you selected, giving a detailed description of their external appearance, together with details of their distribution, structure, feeding habits and breeding. If possible, focus on any birds from each group that inhabit or regularly migrate to your region.

How are Birds Classified

The first step in understanding birds is to understand how they are classified (ie. how they are named).

Why You Need to Know Bird Classifications

When you understand the groups or subdivisions which birds fall into, you will have a foundation for identifying and remembering the names of different birds which you encounter. You will also have a basis upon which to use reference material (books, web sites etc).

Bird names are better remembered when you can associate that name with something you are familiar with - in other words, the family to which that bird belongs.

Scientific and Common Names

Common names are widely used by birdwatchers, and even scientists in the field of Ornithology.

Within a particular locality, scientific names are relatively accurate, though not always 100% correct. Be careful using scientific names though, particularly when you move to other parts of the world, as their accuracy can become uncertain. Bird classification is an imperfect science. Depending upon where an expert places their emphasis, the conclusions which they reach may vary. For instance, if an expert gives more importance to similarities in physical characteristics such as the beak; rather than behaviour, they may classify birds a particular way. Another expert who gives more emphasis to behaviour and less to physical appearance, may classify the same birds differently. Also, scientists in different countries sometimes classify birds differently. For example, in Europe, magpies are commonly black and white birds with the scientific name Pica pica. In Australia, a magpie is classified as a bird belonging to the genus Gymnorhina

CLASS AVES

Birds are animals that belong to the Class Aves. Animals of this class characteristically have skin with feathers, forelimbs that are wings with three fused fingers, the hind limbs that are legs, each leg having four or less toes (usually developed into claws). All living types of birds have a horn like beak, and do not have teeth. The Class Aves includes 27 orders of living birds and a few fossil orders. Of the 27 living order 4 are ratites and the remaining 24 are carinate birds.

The bird heart has four chambers with a single aortic arch on the right and the lungs are extended air pouches. Birds do not have external genitals, external ear lobes or urinary bladders, and their urine is semi-solid.

Birds are classified (Scientifically) under the class Aves; which is then sub divided into two subclasses and beyond into almost 30 different orders.

  • Subclass Archaeornithes
  • Subclass Neornithes
    • Superorder Paleognathae – non-flyers or weak flyers
    • Superorder Neognathae – modern flying birds

Learn more about the different orders, and individual genera and species of birds throughout this course.

It is All About a Good Foundation

When you learn systematically and properly; you will discover that there is a very logical framework for classifying birds. You will look at a bird and determine the order it fits into. By doing this, you will narrow the number of species which that bird might be; and from there, it becomes a much easier task to reduce your list of possibilities further.
When you learn formally through a course such as this; you not only encounter that framework; but you will embed it into your long term memory. In doing so, your ability to recognise and understand all sorts of things about birds will be enhanced. 

Systematic and professionally guided learning about any subject is a very different thing to just reading a book or web site on your own; then seeing what you read fade from short term memory afterwards.

This course is a great opportunity if you are really serious about birds.

It has practical applications for years well beyond the duration of the course.
For some graduates it is the enhancement of an existing passion or career; and for others it is the start.
It can benefit all sorts of people:

  • Environmental consultants
  • Wildlife Surveyors
  • Wildlife Rescuers
  • Wildlife Conservationists
  • Animal scientists
  • Ecotour Operators
  • Zoo keepers
  • Pet Industry Personnel



EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS FURTHER
 
 
 
Take advantage of the free Counselling Service we offer.
 
Contact one of our academic staff.
Learn from our experience.
 
 
 
 
 

or Enrol Today
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Credentials

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council
ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council



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  Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and development, husbandry, thermo-biology, reproduction technologies, and facility design.Robert has B.Sc., Ph, D.
  Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS students. She has worked as a University Lecturer, has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife. Alison has a BSc (Hon) Animal Science.
  Peter Douglas

Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management. Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian. Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to apply that knowledge both through his work with ACS, and beyond.
  Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc., Grad.Dip.Mgt, PDC
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