Avian Terminology Air sacs Thin membrane of the avian respiratory system that allows unidirectional flow of air into the lungs and through the body. There are a total of 9 air sacs, 4 paired (2 cervical sacs, 2 anterior thoracic sacs, 2 posterior thoracic sacs, 2 abdominal sacs) and 1 unpaired (interclavicular). Anisodactyl The most-common anatomical make-up of a birds foot, in which three toes point forward and one toe (hallux, or fist toe) points backwards, a characteristic of passerines. Apteria The featherless tracts on a bird. There are several, but the most useful is the apteric tract that exposes the jugular vein for venipuncture. Blood feather A new feather that is growing has a venous and arterial blood supply. This gives the feather a thickened, purple appearance. As the feather matures, the blood supply recedes. Choana A slit in the roof of a bird’s mouth (in the upper mandible). The choana connects the oropharynx inside the mouth with the nasal cavity. Numerous projections or papillae are found at the edge of the choana. Choanal papillae Several tiny projections that line the choanal slit. These papillae should be sharp, and blunting or absence is often attributed to nutritional deficiencies and/or respiratory illness. Cloaca The common posterior cavity into which the gastro-intestinal, urinary and genital tracts meet. All birds have this structure from which they excrete urine, feces eggs. Comes from the Latin word meaning “sewer”. Dimorphism The physical characteristics differentiate male from female species. Feather A keratinous structure covering the body of a bird. The central shaft is called the rachis. From this, multiple barbs and barbules emerge forming the feather. The feathers are lightweight and strong providing the bird with a protective covering as well as a mechanism for flight. Down feathers provide the bird with insulation and protect the skin from getting wet. Fledgling A baby bird that has left it’s nest but is not yet able to fly, or feed itself without assistance from it’s parents. Heterodactyl The unique anatomical make-up of a bird’s foot where digits 3 and 4 face forward, digits 1 and 2 face backward. Lobate The anatomy of bird’s foot where each toe (2, 3 4) are edged with separate webbing. An example of this is seen in the American coot. Palmate The anatomical make-up of a bird’s foot where the front toes are connected by webbing. The most common type of webbed foot and is seen in ducks, geese, swans, gulls, turns and other aquatic species. Pamprodacytl The unique anatomical make-up of a bird’s foot where all four digits face forward, characteristic of swifts. Pneumatic bone Flighted birds have evolved some bones that are hollow and allow the bird to be light enough for flight. The pelvic bones, some ribs, the humerus, and femur all have large air filled medullary canals that are involved with the respiratory cycle during flight. Polyostotic Hyperostosis Radiographic evidence suggestive of hyperestrogenism that appears as calcification of the medullary spaces of the long bones, particularly of the femur and tibia. Pterylae The feather tracts on the skin of the bird from which the feathers grow. Semipalmate The anatomical make-up of a bird’s foot where the anterior toes are joined part way by a small webbing. May also be referred to as “half-webbed”. Syndactyl The anatomical make-up of a bird’s foot where the two front toes (second and third digits) are partially joined or webbed for much of their length. Common in kingfishers and hornbills. Syrinx The vocal organ of birds, located at the base of the trachea where it bifurcates into the bronchi. Not seen in all avian species. Totipalmate The anatomical make-up of a bird’s foot where all four toes are connected by a thin web. Seen in birds such as the cormorant and pelican. Uropygial gland Also known as the “preen gland.” It is a gland found on the dorsal aspect at the base of the tail, which secretes an oil used for preening. Not all species of birds will have a uropygial gland, such as the Amazon parrot. Weaning The process of a baby bird learning to eat solid/adult food and no longer being dependant on the parents for regurgitated food. Wing trimming The process of cutting the primary flight feathers to temporarily take away a bird’s ability to fly. Zoonosis An infectious disease that is able to be transmitted from humans to animals, or from animals to humans. Zygodactyl The second most common anatomica

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