Is a bird an animal? Well, of course you know the answer to this question. But lots of people don’t! In the Ask Professor Wild series, our resident animal expert is on hand to answer all of your nature and science questions – no matter how silly they may be!
Over to the professor …
Is a bird an animal? Professor Wild Answers!
Is a bird an animal? Yes, of course a bird is an animal! But you’d be surprised how often I’m asked ‘are birds animals!’
I’ll explain why birds are very definitely animals …
Kingdoms Of Living Things
There are five main groups of living things*. These groups are called ‘kingdoms’. They are: Monerans, Protists, Fungi, Plants and Animals.
*In America, the system is slightly different, and Monera are split into two groups: Archaea and Bacteria. So don’t forget, in the USA there are six kingdoms!
A bird certainly isn’t a plant or a fungus. Monerans and protists are very small things like bacteria and some algae. That doesn’t sound very bird-like either!
That means the only kingdom left for a bird is the animal kingdom!
Most animals ingest or swallow food, and all can move around independently.
That sounds like a bird to me!
People get confused because when they think of a typical animal, they usually think of a mammal. Of course, there’s more to the animal kingdom than just mammals: what about all the insects, let alone the birds!
Animals come in all shapes and sizes: from tiny ‘invertebrates’ (animals without backbones) like fleas to huge ‘vertebrates’ (animals with backbones) like blue whales!
Organisms within the animal kingdom are categorised into many other smaller groups. Birds are in a group called ‘Aves’.
A big group of animals like ‘Aves’ is known as a ‘Class’.
Animals in the Aves class are warm-blooded, have feathers and beaks, and lay eggs. If an organism has these characteristics it’s a bird; whether it’s a hummingbird or an ostrich!
Can you guess which class an organism is in if it’s warm-blooded, has hair (even just a little bit), and it’s mother produced milk?
Well done! Organisms that are warm-blooded, have hair, and whose mothers produce milk – organisms like you and I, in fact – are mammals. They’re in the class called ‘Mammalia’!
So, if anyone ever asks you ‘Is a bird an animal?’ you can tell them ‘yes – it is!’
And if you want to appear extra clever, you can also tell them that while birds certainly are animals, they definitely aren’t mammals!
If you want to learn more about how living things are classified, find out about the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, who invented the system.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you’ve got any silly animal questions feel free to ask me. I promise I won’t laugh. Well, maybe just a little bit!