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The specialists guides in Amazon birds

Watching Birds

Watching birds… We go speaking several tips to you about the birds’ life…

Birds (class Aves) are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterized by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moas and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, give most birds the ability to fly, although further speciation has led to some flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly the aforementioned flightless penguins, and also members of the duck family, have also evolved for swimming. Birds, specifically Darwin’s finches, played an important part in the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

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How Watching Birds
Ornithology is part of science that studies birds. This practice is as old as man-in-earth and belong to primitive era when primitive man designed in rocks animals and birds they watched and hunted. In Sacred Bible we find histories of observing birds by Abraham, Moises, Job, Salomon, David, Amos and also Jesus Christ. Nowadays, observe birds is the activity that grows more in America: 63 million persons observe birds. This people travel more than 3.000 miles per year, to different countries to observe and to know birds of this countries.

Birdwatchers are a big net of volunteers that gives a precious service to science, in these countries, participating actively in conservation programs. To watch birds in nature is fun, because stimulate interest in searching birds. This guarantee satisfaction and relax, without hurt them or capture them, letting them to fly untouched. Walking, going uphill or downhill to observe them, you acquire body resistance, without so much effort because your concentration is in observing birds. This activity gives you family interaction, because many times families and relatives keep together by generations through this activity. Elder people can incentive younger people the interest for wildlife and for conservation of nature and provide them opportunity to do something for them.

Origin of Birds.
According to Science, 200 million years ago, birds made evolution from reptiles, that using the rest of skin from upper members as a parachute, started to fly. From there developed giant wing-reptiles, the “Pterosaurs”. Feather came later. The most ancient animal with leather was the Archaeopteryx, at approx. 150 million years. Affirmation that birds, today existing, come from this ancestral, find resistance in a considerable number of scientist, who started to do some inquiring regarding to authenticity if fossils are ancestral of them. For example:

Tail: Archaeopteryx had bone structure, heavy that (possibly) they carried on, meanwhile in birds tail has only feathers to ease the flight.
Form of wings. Archaeopteryx did not have claws. Birds have feathers.
External bone. Archaeopteryx did not have it, meanwhile in birds exist.
Face. Archaeopteryx had snout, mouth and teeth. Birds have only beak.

For those who defend the authenticity of this fossil, they affirm that it had the capacity to fly and that hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is the modern ancestral of Archaeopterix, showing as a proof existing similarities of claws in the extreme of wings that small babies had (but disappear when they turn adults), which is similar to mentioned fossil. For some scientists, morphologically talking the archaeopteryx is more related with dinosaurs and they doubt: “Did they fly like birds?” This is a question that will continue to provoke curiosity and debate for a long time. Nowadays, birds multiplied and diversified for more than 9.700 species on earth. They are the most researched and known group in animal reign.

Importance of birds.
Birds are very important to the nature, acting in a decisive way in ecological process, spreading seeds, pollinating flowers, granting with this natural conditions for maintenance of biodiversity. Regulate by natural ways populations of insects (reducing a proliferation of illness caused by them), reptiles, arthropods and other animals. They also contribute for a better life, enchanting us with its beautiful songs and nice colors. This activity creates jobs and resources in countries like United Kingdom, United States of America, Costa Rica, Colombia and others, through Birdwatching or Birding as is well known.

Birding offers amusement in the middle of nature.
Birding offers satisfaction and relax. Observe birds increase the interest to search birds
Birding offers health. Walking uphill or downhill. Participants acquire physical resistance, without effort, because his attention is on birds. After a session of Birding you can realize that you walked a significant area.
Birding offers Family integration. Frequently, fathers and sons or close relatives keep together for generation through Birding. Elder people can incentive and stimulate younger relatives the interest for wildlife and for the conservation of nature.
Birding offers company. Bird observation is an activity the provide company. Experienced birdwatchers like to share their knowledge, for this reason, birdwatchers are always welcomed.
Birding offers Loneliness. Birdwatching guarantee special pleasure for those who want to observe birds alone.
Birdwatching is relax, adventure, discovering in groups or alone.

What do you need to start to watch birds?
Do you want know what do you need to start watching birds? Basic equipment you need to watch and study birds are: a pair of binoculars with 8 to 10 times of enlargement, a field note and a field-book. The book that is very useful to register description of birds watched, nests and general observations. It has assorted technical information, descriptions and it is illustrated with colored birds photos that are in referred area or country. To observe birds in the Amazon we recommend the following books:

A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil. 2009. by Ber Van Perlo, Oxford University Press 465p.

Guia de Campo Avisbrasilis: Avifauna Brasileira. 2013. Tomas Sigrist: Avis Brasilis, Valinos, 3a edição, 592p.

Aves da Amazônia Brasileira/Brazilian Amazon Birds. 2008. Tomas Sigrist: Avis Brasilis – Valinos.

Todas as aves do Brasil: guia de identificação de campo. 2005. Deodato Souza. Dall: Feira de Santana.

Guia de Campo: Aves do Brasil Oriental/Field Guide: Birds of Eastern Brazil. 2007. Tomas Sigrist. Avis Brasilis – Valinos.

Guia de Campo: Avifauna Brasileiras/The Aves Brasileiras: A field guides to teh Birds of Brazil, vol. 1 and vol. 2, (2010).Tomas Sigrist: Avis Brasilis, Valinos.

Birds in Brazil: a natural history. Helmut Sick, 1997. Translated from the portuguese by William Belton. Editora Nova Fronteira. Rio de Janeiro. 862p.

All the Birds of Brazil: An Identification Guide. 2005. Deodato Souza. Editora Dall. Feira de Santana, Bahia. 356p.

Birds of Venezuela (2nd edition). 2005. Steven L. Hilty. Princeton Paperbacks.

How to identify a bird?
Do you want learn how to identify a bird? Here we have some important suggestions. The most important part you need to identify in a bird is generally its head. Try to lock for lines, format, color of beak and eyes, neck, front part and crown. Check it to see if they have designs, marks or spots in wings or a ring around the eyes. Color of a bird can vary when you see from different parts, or when they are on top of a tree or at noon or at sunset. Check main color of each part of its body (head, body, wings, tail and legs). Compare bird seen with illustrations existing in your log-book. Sometimes identifying the color of legs helps you to identify difference from one specie to other. Practicing, you can refine your identification (ID) till you identify a correct family. Non-identified species must be registered in your log-book. Ask first: What is its size? Is it as small as a canary or as big as a pigeon or a duck or a turkey? Is it fat or thin, short or tall? Observe every part of it. If wings are short or big, wide or fine, with curves or without curves. And its tail? How is its format? Is it divided or curve or strait?

How identify birds by songs?
Experienced observers can “see” more birds with closed eyes than many others with open eyes! They know all sound sang by birds. It is necessary to learn to listen. Sound that bird sing can tell you “start to look for me”. Try to do some syllabic description of them, or do any association with a phrase or a word. Do you want know how to learn Bird Songs? Do you want learn how to identify bird by song? For to recognize and remember the vocalization of birds, you need to become familiar with them. Start to learn the vocalization of the birds most common near his home and then expand their knowledge, observing and hearing the birds singing in the field. From practice, become the experience. So, it will be easier to learn it. Some birds live in places hard to reach and observe, in which you will never see them. Seeing and listening to bird than sing, in field, you learn to link bird to its song. We have in our Bookstore an audio CD with bird songs from Amazon Rainforest made by Reynier Omena Junior.

Watch its behavior.
After finalizing all of these, watch its behavior. Is it alone, or in couple, or in a group? Is it messing in the ground or in the bush or in the canopy? What does it feed from? Does it eat erect or lay down? Its fly is horizontal, direct or up & down as a roller-coaster? Is the fly beaten or plain or a combination of this two? With practice, you can recognize many species of birds by its silhouette. Finally, look around you. Where are the bird and you? Are you and bird in a primary forest, or in a secondary forest, or in a clear field, or inside of the jungle, or beside a lake, or in the middle of a river? Each bird likes a specific environment – habitat: shore of forest, lake, flooded jungle, primary forest and so on. In ground, in bushes, in canopy, swimming or diving. Identify bird habitat. We can find birds in every single place. You will be shocked to know that birds live in your own backyard! For this, keep your eyes open and your hears in attention. If you can respond these questions, you will have good chances to find the bird you are looking for in your Bird book.

Suggested field guides for watching Birds at Brazil.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil (2009) by Ber Van Perlo, Oxford University Press 465p; Aves da Amazônia Brasileira/Brazilian Amazon Birds (2008) by Tomas Sigrist: Avis Brasilis, Valinos; Guia de Campo Avifauna Brasileira/The Avis Brasilis: A field guides to the Birds of Brazil, vol. 1 and vol. 2, (2010).Tomas Sigrist: Avis Brasilis, Valinos; and Birds of Venezuela (2nd edition, 2005) by Steven L. Hilty, Princeton Paperbacks.

Places to watch birds in the City of Manaus.
In Manaus, there are places close to urban zone, in which you can watching hundred of species without making effort: Parque Estadual Sumauma, Adolfo Duke Botanic Garden or MUSA – Museu da Amazônia, Bosque da Ciência, Mindú Municipal Park, around Tropical Hotel, behind Conjunto Petro, close to Japanese Colony, Pau Rosa’s Road, Amazonas’ University Campus and many others. As far you are from Urban zone, the many species you will find. Many recommendations for this theme and others you will find in book “Birds of Amazon – A reference guide to the Birdwatching” listed in our on-line catalogue. Now you know this useful recommendation, practice them.