Parts of a Bird

It is not necessary to have a detailed knowledge of the anatomy and morphology of birds to be a competent birder, but it is important to be thoroughly familiar with the parts of a bird's visible plumage, or its feathers. The major groups of feathers are the remiges (flight feathers of the wing), rectrices (tail feathers), coverts (feathers that cover the bases of the remiges and rectrices, both above and below), upperparts (mantle, scapulars, and upper surface of the folded wing), and under parts (throat, breast, belly, flanks, vent, and undertail coverts). It is also necessary to know the terms for the markings of the head and for the parts of the bill (beak).

Birders often use less formal terms to identify features of a bird: cheek, forehead, chin, wrist, arm, hand, frontlet, cap, bib, eye patch, cowl, and others. Consult the Glossary for definitions of these terms.

Least Flycatcher

Lincoln's Sparrow

Hipping Sparrow

Great Black-backed Gull

Glaucous Gull


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