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What Makes a Bird a Bird?

Did you know that there are about 10 000 different TYPES of birds in the world? They come in all shapes and sizes and live in lots of different environments. Let’s find out more!

Before we begin, let’s have a bit of fun and spy on a bird. What is life like for it? What does it get up to every day? 

Be very quiet now, we don’t want to scare it… 

A Day in the Life of a Bird

Birds are awesome, and it’s not just Steve saying that. Scientists think birds are so cool, they have put them in their own, special group. But what is it that makes birds so different from other animals? What makes a bird, a bird? 

All living things are classfied into groups based on their physical characteristics. Birds can be classified according to below:

1. Kingdom - Animalia
2. Phylum - Chordata (Vertebrates or animals with a backbone)
3. Class - Aves (Birds)

All animals in the Class Aves - breathe air, have two legs, have wings, are warm blooded, and lay eggs. These charactistics may also be found in other animals in other class groups eg. Bats which are mammals have wings, and some reptiles lay eggs. Watch the video below to discover what it is that makes birds UNIQUE!


It’s their feathers that make birds so different! There is more to a bird than just feathers though. 

Birds might have the same body parts, but that doesn’t mean they all look the same. Birds can have very different beaks and feet that help them survive in their environment. 

We can look at a bird’s beak and get clues about what it eats. 

Can you match the beak with what it does? The colours will match if you are correct.


A bird’s feet can also tell us a lot about where it lives or how it acts. 

To find out more about the different types of beak and feet, check out the ProjectBeak website

Can you work out what the feet are used for?

There are many different birds that live, visit or nest in the Royal Botanic Garden and Centennial Park in Sydney. Pretend you are bird watching in real life and try and spot some of our birds in the image gallery below.  

What sorts of birds might live in the habitat you see?  What type of beak and feet might they have? Can you see any birds? Can you ID them? Here’s a good bird guide to help.

Have a look at the satellite maps of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Centennial Park. Why do you think so many birds use these places? 

You have looked at our birds, now it’s time to look at yours! 

Some tips for bird watching: 

  • Be quiet and walk slowly so you don’t scare birds off. 
  • Listen for their calls and follow the sound. 
  • Look for feathers, poo and footprints to find out where they like to hang out. 
  • Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Birds move about more at these times. 
  • Don’t bird watch on a hot or windy day. They won’t be out and about as much. 

Good luck! If you see Steve, try and teach him a GOOD joke for once! 

Activities - What Makes a Bird a Bird?

1. Create a Wanted poster about Steve

Read ‘A Day in the Life of a Bird’ comic. What facts did you learn about Kookaburras? Create a 'Wanted' poster about Steve by researching Kookaburras. This website is a good place to start. Your poster should include a crime, where kookaburras are found in Australia (draw Australia and colour where they are found), their habitat, their size, what they look like, what they eat, what sort of nest they make and how they communicate with each other.  

2. Make a footprint for each type of bird foot

Look at the pictures of the types of bird feet. Think about what sort of footprint they might make. Using sticks and other things you can find, make a footprint for each type of bird foot. You might want to make the footprints by pressing sticks into play dough to make a pattern, or just make a trail of them in your front yard using the sticks themselves. 

3. Use Google Maps and go birdwatching 

Open Google My Maps, find your house. Predict where you might find birds in your area using satellite view. Think about the sorts of places birds might use and what they need.  Go for a walk and see how many birds you can spot near your house. Can you ID them using the bird guide. Where did you see the most? Sky, trees, ground, or on houses?  How would you change your area to attract more birds?  

4. Design a map

Using your knowledge design a map of an imaginary suburb that you have built to attract birds.