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Wild About Birds - Illinois Crows, Jays, Larks and Swallows!

Family and Species Gallery

Kingdom: Animalia - Animals are multicellular organisms that rely on other organisms for nourishment. There cells do not have cell walls. Most animals are capable of movement at least in some portion of their life cycle. Reproduction is generally sexual, but in some animals asexual reproduction may be utilized at certain times.
Phylum: Chordata - The Phylum Chordata contains the vertebrate animals. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes are included in this phylum. These animals have a notochord at some point in their development. They have a tubular nerve cord along the back. Gill slits and a tail are present at some point in their life cycle. They have an internal skeleton.
Class: Aves - Birds are the only organisms with feathers. They are endotherms, maintaining a nearly constant body temperature. They have a hard bill but no teeth. A gizzard, which functions to grind food, is present in the digestive tract. Fertilization is internal. A nest is built in which the hard-shelled eggs are deposited and incubated.
Order: Passeriformes - These are birds with adaptations for holding on to thin twigs or stems. Three of the toes on each foot face forward and one backward to help it grasp and balance on small branches.
Family: Corvidae (Jays, Crows and Allies) - Crows and their relatives are large birds with a large bill. Crows have black feathers. Jays have at least some feathers that are blue. Male and female corvids have the same coloration. The tail is relatively long. The nostrils are covered with bristles. They eat a variety of foods.
     blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
     American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
     fish crow (Corvus ossifragus)

Family: Alaudidae (Larks) - The larks have an extended claw on the rear-facing toes. They are generally brown birds that live on land. These birds eat seeds and insects. Only one species is found in North America, the horned lark.
     horned lark (Eremophila alpestris)

Family: Hirundinidae (Swallows) - Swallows are small, thin birds. They have a stream-lined body. Their feet and bill are extremely small. The wings are long and pointed. Swallows are graceful flyers. Sexes are similar in appearance (except for the purple martin).
     bank swallow (Riparia riparia)
     tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
     northern rough-winged swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
     purple martin (Progne subis)
     barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
     cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
     cave swallow (Petrochelidon fulva)