By Allison M. Strickland
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.