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Birds Guide


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Ornithology (from the Greek ornis = bird and logos = word/science) is the branch of zoology concerned with the scientific study of birds. Several aspects of the study of ornithology differ from closely related disciplines, perhaps because of the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds. Most marked among these is the extent of field studies undertaken by amateur volunteers working within the parameters of strict scientific methodology.


Fields of study

The areas of study that are included under ornithology are numerous and no list can attempt to be exhaustive. The following is a broad classification of some of the fields within contemporary ornithology.

  • Field Ornithology
    • Ecological studies
      • Studies of individuals
      • Studies of populations
      • Studies of communities
    • Behavioral studies
  • Laboratory Ornithology
    • Physiological studies
    • Genetic studies

The techniques used in ornithology are varied and changing. Early ornithological studies were based on specimen shooting and skins. Ornithology has subsequently become largely observation based. Optical instruments have been very important in ornithology; however approaches such as the use of radar and radio tracking are also used. Use of ringing and other marking techniques have helped in studies of migration and behavior.

Birds have served as important model organisms in the evolution of modern biological ideas. Key ideas include that of speciation, as noted by Charles Darwin from his observation of the finches on the Galapagos Islands. The first attempt to formally define the concept of biological species was also developed using birds as model organisms by Ernst Mayr. Birds have also been the subject of numerous evolutionary studies that have helped in understanding the plasticity of species and the limitations of attempts to define species.

Many advances in ecology have also been made based on the study of birds. These include theories of island biogeography, models of extinction and species-area relationships.

Birds have also served as models for behavioural studies including studies of mate selection, territoriality, foraging behaviour and parental investment. Other aspects of special interest include their ability to navigate in migrations.

History of ornithology

National associations and societies


South Africa


  • Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS): Located at Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the oldest non-government Organization in the area of natural history in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) Located near Coimbatore.
  • Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta. The government department meant to document and study the fauna of India.
  • The Ornithological Society of Japan (OSJ) - [1]
  • Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ) - [2]
  • Japanese Society for Preservation of Birds (JSPB) - [3]
  • Yamashina Institute for Ornithology - [4]


  • Estonian Ornithological Society - [5]
  • Bird Watch Ireland
  • Lithuanian Ornithological Society - [6]
  • Society for Observation and Study of Birds of Slovenia (Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije) (DOPPS)
United Kingdom
  • British Ornithologists' Club
    British Ornithologists' Union
    British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)
    The British Birds Rarities Committee
    The Rare Birds Breeding Panel (RBBP)
    Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
    Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

North America

  • CIPAMEX, La Sección Mexicana del Consejo Internacional para la Preservación de las Aves, A.C.


  • Birds Australia
New Zealand
  • Ornithological Society of New Zealand
  • Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

South America


Publications and magazines

  • Acrocephalus, DOPPS (Slovenia)
  • Ardeola, Sociedad Española de Ornitología (Spain) - [7]
  • Audubon Magazine (USA) - [8]
  • The Auk, American Ornithologists' Union (USA) - Post-1999 volumes [9]; complete volumes 1-116 (1884-1999) as free DjVu and PDF files at SORA [10]
  • BirdingASIA (formerly OBC Bulletin), Oriental Bird Club - [11], OBC Bulletin [12]
  • Bird Study (UK) - [13]
  • Birds & Blooms - [14]
  • British Birds (UK)
  • Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club (UK) - [15]
  • The Condor, Cooper Ornithological Society (USA) - Post-2000 volumes [16]; complete volumes 1-102 (1899-2000) as free DjVu and PDF files at SORA [17]
  • 'Elepaio, Hawaii Audubon Society (USA) - Free full-text access to last 2 volumes [18]
  • Emu, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (Australia) - [19]
  • Forktail, Oriental Bird Club - [20]
  • Hirundo (Estonia) - [21]
  • Ibis, British Ornithologists Union (UK) - [22]
  • Irish Birds (Ireland)
  • Journal of Avian Biology, Nordic Society Oikos [23]
  • The Journal of Field Ornithology, Association of Field Ornithologists (USA) - Complete volumes 51-70 (1980-1999) and predecessor publication Bird-Banding as free DjVu and PDF files at SORA [24]
  • Japanese Journal of Ornithology (Japan) - [25]
  • Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology (Japan) - [26]
  • Kukila (Bulletin of the Indonesian Ornithological Society) - [27]
  • Marine Ornithology - Free full-text access to volumes 16 and later (1988-present) [28]
  • Ostrich (South Africa)
  • Ornithos (France) - [29]
  • Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, SBO (Brasil) - [30]
  • Revista Ornitología Colombiana, ACO (Colombia) - Free full-text access [31]
  • Te Manu, Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie - Free back issues [32]
  • The Wilson Bulletin, Wilson Ornithological Society (USA) - Complete volumes 1-111 (1889-1999) as free DjVu and PDF files at SORA [33]
  • Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volumes 1-16 [34]


See also

Other Meanings

External links

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