Bird Terms: The Terms You Need To Know

Definitions of words used by pet bird enthusiasts with the pet bird slant.

Definitions of words used by pet bird enthusiasts with the pet bird slant.

Allopreening: The communal grooming of feathers birds practice when living in flocks. More information about allopreening here.

Aves: The class of birds or a category in biological taxonomy ranking.

Aviary: A very large enclosure, usually outside, that houses multiple birds. Some include bird-safe plants and trees.

Aviculture: The breeding and keeping of birds in a domestic setting.

Bristles: Feathers that look more like hair, found mostly around a bird’s eyes, nares and beak.

Cere: A soft, waxy-looking structure above the beak.

Cloaca: The terminal area of the digestive, renal and reproductive systems; divided into three sections: coprodeum, urodeum and proctodeum.

Clutch: A group of eggs laid by a female bird during one nesting period.

Coverts: Smaller feathers covering a bird’s large wing and tail feathers.

Crop: At the base of the esophagus, a pouch-like enlargement of the gullet that acts as a storage area for food and passes metered masses of food into a bird’s gastrointestinal tract.

Cuttlebone: A dietary supplement of calcium carbonate, from cuttlefish. More about the cuttlebone here.

Dimorphic: A visible difference in the size, coloring or other physical characteristics between male and female birds.

Down feathers: Hidden under the contour feathers on adult birds. Very soft and insulating feathers.

Eye pinning: The rapid dilation and contraction of a bird’s irises. Eye pinning indicates excitement or fear.

Feather picking:  A behavior occurring when a bird over-preens itself, leading to feather damage.

Flock: A social group of birds.

Grit: A fine rock or gravel fed to certain bird species that aids the grinding of food in the gizzard. Parrots do not need grit.

Hand-fed: A pet bird fed by humans until it was weaned.

Hardbills: Birds such as canaries and finches that mainly eat seeds and nuts.

Hookbill: Another name for a parrot; refers to its curved beak.

Hornbills:  Birds of the family Bucerotidae that have a large bill surmounted with a protruding “horn” called a casque.

Lore: Area between the eyes and the bill on each side of a bird’s face.

Lutino: A color mutation in a bird, such as in a cockatiel, ranging from white to creamy yellow.

Mandible:  Lower bird bill; Maxilla – Upper bird bill

Millet: A low-fat, high -carbohydrate seed.

Molt: When a bird loses its feathers and grows new ones.

Nape: Back of the bird’s neck.

Nares: Two round openings in the cere that carry air into a bird’s sinus cavity.

Neonate: A bird in its first few days of life. It is blind and helpless.

Nest box: A small wooden or metal enclosure, which parrots can lay eggs in.

Nestling: A baby bird still in the nest.

Neutral room: An unfamiliar room or space in an owner’s home where the bird is nonterritorial.

Night thrashing:  When a bird is startled at night and blindly flies around its cage (predominantly in cockatiels).

Nocturnal: Birds that are active at night.

Passerine: Of or relating to the Order (a category in a biological taxonomy ranking) called Passeriformes, which includes finches, canaries and other small perching birds.

Pellets: A manufactured food source designed for bird’s nutritional needs.

Pied: A pattern mutation that shows up as patchy, splotchy feather coloring.

Preening: The bird’s self-grooming, which helps clean and maintain feathers.

Primaries: Main flight feathers on the outer part of the wings.

Psittacine: Of or relating to the Order (a category in biological taxonomy ranking) called Psittaciformes, which consists of the various hookbills.

Sexing: Determining the gender of a bird.

Softbills: Birds, such as mynahs or toucans, which mainly eat soft foods, including fruit, insects or nectar.

Vent: The outer opening of the cloaca; through this single opening all cloacal contents exit the body.

Waxbills: Finch-like birds of the family Estrilididae. However, not all finches are classified as waxbills.

Weaning: The process where a baby bird goes from being fed warm, wet, mushy food to eating solid foods on its own.

Article Categories:
Birds · Lifestyle

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