Are Birds Animals? Common Misconceptions That People Have

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Feb 01, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 26, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Northern Flicker detailed close up.

All the living beings in this world living in nature are divided into five kingdoms.

They are animals, fungi, monerans, plants, and protists. In the American system, they are divided into six kingdoms.

The monerans are divided into two groups - bacteria and archaea in the American system. The best example for the small organisms that belong to the monerans or protists and are not considered animals is bacteria or algae.

Hence, it's pretty evident that birds don't belong to the kingdoms of monerans, fungi, plants, or protists. So, yes, they belong to the animal kingdom. The definition of animals in simple terms is living beings other than a plant or a human, everything else is all animals.

However, even a human belongs to the mammal class of animals. Animals include mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and more creatures. Vertebrates such as birds are one group among these animals.

All animals, including birds, generally eat organic material. Birds even have very similar attributes as reptiles, so quite clearly, they are animals.

Keep reading to gather more knowledge on the matter and if you like the article, then also check out are bay leaves edible and are cats supposed to eat catnip.

What are birds classified as?

The class of birds, class Aves, belongs to animals in the kingdom Animalia. It might seem like it's a random classification as each bird is different, but they are put under one class for a few common characteristics of theirs.

Artificial classification is a system where animals are first put together according to their common characteristics, such as their appearance or common abilities. Then the organisms are placed accordingly under different classifications.

This process might be more subjective, but it's pretty stable. In the case of birds, they all belong to the Aves class of Animalia kingdom. They are considered animals, but they have very different characteristics than the rest of the animals.

Natural classification is a system where organisms are put together according to their common ancestors, or their evolutionary relationships. Even in that case, the classification of birds can be justified as all of the species of birds that we know evolved from dinosaurs.

More specifically, they evolved from a group of primarily carnivorous dinosaurs, the theropods. The oldest known fossils of a bird found in scientific research date back to 150 million years ago.

They were small-sized dinosaurs that had the ability to fly. When the other dinosaurs perished in their apocalypse, these small flying dinosaurs were the only ones that survived and evolved into the birds we know today.

Now the birds we know are further classified into 10000 bird species for the differences they have. However, they all belong to the Aves class for the few common characteristics that they all possess, but other animals don't.

What is the difference between animals and birds?

In simple scientific terms, any living being other than plants or humans is called an animal. Hence, birds can definitely be identified as animals. More specifically, they are vertebrates, but they differ from the rest of the animals owing to some simple physical attributes and some complex physiological differences.

Fur and feathers - All animals, except birds either have their body covered with hair, fur, or scales. Birds are the only creatures on earth that have feathers on their body. They help birds take flight, camouflage, regulate body temperature, attract mates, and more.

Teeth and beaks - Most animals have teeth or strong jaws to eat food, while birds have beaks in their mouth. They use it to attack their prey, carry things, preen, and for more purposes. This beak differs in various species of birds according to the food preferences of the birds.

Limbs - Most animals either have legs and hands or forelegs and hind legs. Whereas, birds have wings that help them fly. They also have two legs that differ according to the different species, their habits, habitat, and more.

Skeleton structure - Most animals have solid bones that help them walk or swim. In the case of birds, they have hollow bones with no bone marrow which helps them be lightweight and fly better. The wing of a bird is also attached to its strong keel-shaped sternum to make them better fliers.

Air sacs and diaphragm - Most animals possess diaphragms, but birds don't. However, the most unique feature that is present in only birds is air sacs. These air sacs help air move in and out of a bird's body in a smoother way that makes them a super-breather.

Clavicles and wishbone - While most other animals have clavicles, it fuses in the case of birds and forms the wishbone or furcula. The wishbone keeps the chest organs of birds safe in different altitudes and against the pressure of the wind.

Why are birds not considered animals?

The conception is wrong that birds are not considered animals. Birds are animals and yes, they are classified as a member of the animal kingdom.

However, even though they are a part of animals, the differences in attributes mentioned above and a few more abilities that birds possess make them different creatures altogether. They have the ability to fly.

Very few animals other than birds have the ability to fly, like bats, insects, or flying fish. However, birds are the uniquely known creatures for this trait as they have wings and elaborated feathers on them, like the primary feathers or secondary ones that help them fly. They have excellent navigation skills.

Some birds have the ability to migrate to thousands of miles away in the winter, but still, come back to where they left from again. Even the ones that stay in one place year-round have this ability as well. All birds are masters at navigation. A bird has a high metabolism rate.

In fact, birds have a higher metabolism rate than most animals. They also have a higher respiratory rate. These attributes basically help them fly better and regulate body temperature while keeping their body healthy.

Apart from that, birds can regulate their body temperature as per their needs. They are primarily endothermic and this keeps them warm.

As they are warm-blooded, they don't need to rely on their surroundings to regulate their body temperature. Moreover, the eggs of birds usually have harder shells than eggs of other animals, like reptiles. Some birds that are big in size can store the calcium they get by eating to produce these hard-shelled eggs.

What are the types of birds?

There are approximately 40 orders that belong to the class of birds, Aves. About 10000 known species belong in these orders. Some have become extinct, while some are still being discovered and we can certainly assume that we still haven't discovered many of them.

All birds are categorized according to the different attributes they possess from each other. Some birds are perching birds or songbirds that can charm you with their sweet simple and complex songs.

These songbirds make up the largest order of birds, the Passeriformes. Around 60% of all birds are passerines, meaning, they belong to this order, like flycatchers, wrens, jaybirds, sparrows, warblers, and more.

Then there are raptors or birds of prey that mainly hunt for prey, like mammals, fish, and even insects. They have strong eyesight, power for flight, legs, and more, like hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, and more.

There are large birds that cannot fly, like an ostrich, penguin, emu, kiwi, and more. There are waterfowl species that live in water along with land.

These birds tend to feed, breed, and live in the water. Most of them have webbed feet to accommodate their wildlife habitats in nature, like ducks, swans, geese, screamers, and others.

There are also some birds that can live their life as pets in households with humans, while some need the wild habitat to live their life. Some birds live in such wild habitats that become hard or impossible to imitate, like vultures and the albatross.

A number of birds that have adapted to life in households with humans, away from the wild, are parrots, chickens, finches, ducks, among others.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are birds animals then why not take a look at our articles on are birds warm-blooded, or are black diamonds real.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

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Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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