Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois



Ornithology is a zoological science that studies those creatures belonging to the Class Aves, much better known as birds. Birds, the only vertebrates that have feathers, are generally divided into two major groups. Ostriches, Emus, Dodos and Kiwis are ratites, birds that lack that conspicuous keel-like extension on the breast bone and lack the ability to fly. The vast majority of the birds, however, are non-ratites and possess the keel to which the powerful muscles that power the wings are attached. All-in-all, there are over 9200 extant species of birds divided into 30 orders and 174 families. Their ability to fly has allowed them to colonize every land mass on earth including the Arctic and Antarctic and some, like the Penguins, have adapted an aquatic lifestyle coming to shore only to breed and raise young.

Fossil evidence of the ancestors of modern birds indicates that they were contemporaneous with dinosaurs. Indeed, evidence is mounting that these feathered creatures are in fact the highly evolved living incarnation of the terrible lizards. This long evolutionary history has allowed for the development of the many unique morphological, physical and behavioral attributes in birds that make the science of ornithology such an interesting vocation. 



List of Illinois Birds 

Illinois Endangered and Threatened Birds - Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board

Guide to Illinois Birds - Species profiles and distribution maps

INHS bird-related research and projects are listed in our Annual Reports.

See our Publications Catalog for bird-related material published at INHS. 

Some past articles published in INHS Reports:

Responses to Nest Predation and Brood Parasitism in a Migratory Songbird. Winter 2002

Effects of Excluding Birds on Illinois Prairies. Winter 2002

Fruit Complementarity in Feeding Birds. Spring 2001

Effects of Exotic Plants on Bird Nesting Success. Autumn 2001

Exotic Shrubs and Songbird Nest Success. Summer 2000

Species Spotlight: American Robin. May-June 2000

Urban Conservation of a Wetland Bird Species. March-April 2000

Turkeys on the Edge of the Prairie. September-October 1999

Bird Migration: How Much Fuel Does a Songbird Need. July-August 1999

INHS Bird Collection. March-April 1999

Wetland Bird Conservation in Northeastern Ilinois. May-June 1998

Species Spotlight: Passenger Pigeon. May-June 1998

Species Spotlight: Downy Woodpecker. January-February 1998

Cowbird Parasitism in Different Habitats. November-December 1997

Wingbeats over Illinois. September-October 1997

Species Spotlight: Yellow-headed Blackbird. March-April 1997

Grassland for Prairie Chickens: How much is Enough?. January-February 1997

Eastern Bluebirds: Effects of Environment on Reproductive Strategies. March-April 1996

Land Management for Waterfowl in the Illinois and Mississippi Floodplains. March-April 1996

Tree Cavity Abundance and Use by Nesting Wood Ducks. September-October 1995

Kentucky Warbler Population Dynamics in a Forest Mosaic. May-June 1995

Non-resident Prairie Chickens in Illinois. March-April 1995 

18 June 2002 cam

Illinois Natural History Survey

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