Ornithology

Study ornithology online. Learn about the biology, anatomy, physiology and taxonomy of birds, and improve your ability to identify different birds.

Course Code: BEN102
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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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.

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, Auks, 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

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

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


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

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We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
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You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

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If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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 develop

Alison Pearce (Agri & Animal)

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 techniqu





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS Agriculture, Wildlife and Ecotourism students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, a Quality Assurance Manager, a Research Technician, and 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.

Sarah Pirecki

A passionate advocate for animal health and welfare. Sarah completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience majoring in Animal Health and Disease and is currently completing a Diploma of Project Management. She has a wide range of experience working in agricultural settings, veterinary nursing, assistance dog raising, and animal education.

Michael Brugman

Mike is a graduate of Rhodes University and has experience in the Earth Science field. His working experience includes working as a consultant in geology, environmental and atmospheric science.

More recently he has been focused on research and academia including research interests in areas such as air quality and carbon emissions.

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