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Birds of Yosemite National Park (1954, 1963) by Cyril A. Stebbins and Robert C. Stebbins


APPENDIX I: FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS OF BIRDS

The character of the bill and feet of a bird often may serve as a guide to its habits and an indication of its relationship to other birds. For example, seed-eating species have short stout bills that are used in cracking seeds, woodpeckers have long chisel-like bills for drilling into wood, and owls have hooked beaks for tearing apart animals they capture with their long curved talons. Often all the members of a bird family have similar beak and foot structure but this is not invariably true because the members of a family may have become adapted to different modes of life.

The illustrations (pages 65-69, figures 1-45) depict variation in beak and foot structure. The families shown with the species representing them are as follows:

Grebes: Order Podicipediformes
    1. Grebes: Family Podicipedidae—Western Grebe

Pelican-like birds: Order Pelecaniformes
    2. Pelicans: Family Pelecanidae—White pelican (Foot as in figure 3)
    3. Cormorants: Family Phalacrocoracidae—Double-crested cormorant

Stork-like birds: Order Ciconiiformes
    4. Herons and Bitterns: Family Ardeidae— Green heron (note comb on middle toenail)

Goose-like birds: Order Anseriformes
    5. Ducks, Geese, and Swans: Family Anatidae—Bufflehead

Hawk-like birds: Order Falconiformes
    6. American Vultures: Family Cathartidae—Turkey vulture
    7. Kites, Hawks, and Eagles: Family Accipitridae—Red-tailed hawk

Fowl-like birds: Order Galliformes
    8. Quail and Pheasants: Family Phasianidae—Gambel’S quail

Crane-like birds: Order Gruiformes
    9. Rails: Family Rallidae—American coot

Plover-like birds: Order Charadriiformes
    10. Plovers: Family Charadriidae—Killdeer
    11. Snipe, Sandpipers, etc.: Family Scolopacidae—Least sandpiper
    12. Avocets and Stilts: Family Recurvirostiudae—American avocet
    13. Phalaropes: Family Phalaropodidae—Northern phalarope
    14. Gulls and Terns: Family Laridae—Ring-billed gull (immature)

Pigeon-like birds: Order Columbiformes
    15. Pigeons and Doves: Family Columbidae—Mourning dove

Family Characteristics of Birds 1-15

Cuckoo-like birds: Order Cuculiformes
    16. Cuckoos, Roadrunners, etc.: Family Cuculidae—Roadrunner

Owls: Order Strigiformes
    17. Barn Owls: Family Tytonidae—Barn owl (Note comb on front toenail)
    18. Typical Owls: Family Strigidae—Screech owl (Foot similar to Tytonidae but no comb on nail)

Goatsucker-like birds: Order Caprimulgiformes
    19. Goatsuckers: Family Caprimulgidae—Common nighthawk (Note comb on middle toenail)

Swifts and Hummingbirds: Order Apodiformes
    20. Swifts: Family Apodidae—Vaux’s swift (Note bare spine-like shafts of tips of tail feathers)
    21. Hummingbirds: Family Trochilidae—Allen’s Hummingbird (female)

Roller-like birds: Order Coraciiformes
    22. Kingfishers: Family Alcedinidae—Belted kingfisher

Woodpecker-like birds: Order Piciformes
    23. Woodpeckers: Family Picidae—Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Note the zygodactyl foot—two toes in front, two behind)

Perching birds: Order Passeriformes
    *24. Tyrant Flycatchers: Family Tyrannidae—Say’S phoebe
    25. Larks: Family Alaudidae—Horned lark
    26. Swallows: Family Hirundinidae—Violet-green swallow
    27. Jays, Magpies, and Crows: Family Corvidae—Scrub jay

___________________________________
*The species representing these families have a foot structure similar to that shown in figure 27.

Family Characteristics of Birds 16-27
Family Characteristics of Birds 28-33

Perching birds: Order Passeriformes (Cont’d.)
    *28. Tits: Family Paridae—Plain titmouse
    *29. Nuthatches: Family Sittidae—White-breasted nuthatch
    *30. Creepers: Family Certhrdae—Brown creeper (The tail feathers are stiffened and pointed)
    *31. Wrentits: Family Chamaeidae—Wrentit
    *32. Dippers: Family Cinclidae—Dipper
    *33. Wrens: Family Troglodytidae—Bewick’s wren
    *34. Mockingbirds and Thrashers: Family Mimidae—California thrasher
    35. Thrushes: Family Turdidae—Hermit thrush
    *36. Old-World Warblers, Gnatcatchers. Kinglets: Family Sylviidae—Golden-crowned kinglet
    37. Wagtails: Family Motacillidae—Water pipit
    *38. Waxwings: Family Bombycillidae—Cedar waxwing
    [--. Silky Flycatchers: Family Ptilogonatidae]
    *39. Shrikes: Family Laniidae—Loggerhead shrike
    *40. Vireos: Family Vireonidae—Solitary vireo
    *41. Wood Warblers: Family Parulidae—Yellow-throat
    *42. Weaver Finches: Family Ploceidae—-House sparrow
    *43. Orioles and Blackbirds: Family Icteridae—Scott’s oriole
    *44. Tanagers: Family Thraupidae—Western tanager
    *45. Finches, Sparrows, etc.: Family Fringillidae—White-crowned sparrow

___________________________________
* The species representing these families have a foot structure similar to that shown in figure 35.

Family Characteristics of Birds 34-45


Next: Appendix II: KeyContentsPrevious: Sources of Information

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