Glossary of bird terms
The following is a glossary of common English language terms used in the description of birds—warm-blooded vertebrates of the class Aves, characterized by feathers, the ability to fly in all but the approximately 60 extant species of flightless birds, toothless, beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart and a strong yet lightweight skeleton.
Among other details such as size, proportions and shape, terms defining bird features developed and are used to describe features unique to the class—especially evolutionary adaptations that developed to aid flight. There are, for example, numerous terms describing the complex structural makeup of feathers (e.g., barbules, rachides and vanes); types of feathers (e.g., filoplume, pennaceous and plumulaceous feathers); and their growth and loss (e.g., colour morph, nuptial plumage and pterylosis).
There are thousands of terms that are unique to the study of birds. This glossary makes no attempt to cover them all, concentrating on terms that might be found across descriptions of multiple bird species by bird enthusiasts and ornithologists. Though words that are not unique to birds are also covered, such as "back" or "belly", they are defined in relation to other unique features of external bird anatomy, sometimes called "topography". As a rule, this glossary does not contain individual entries on any of the approximately 9,700 recognized living individual bird species of the world.