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Wild About Birds - Illinois Loons, Storks, Darters and Cormorants!

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: Gaviiformes - These birds have short legs that are placed far back on the body. They have webbed feet and are good divers. The young are able to leave the nest a short time after hatching. The loons are members of this order of birds.
Family: Gaviidae (Loons) - The loons are large swimming birds that can dive for their food. The must tread water quickly to push themselves into flight and cannot lift off the water like certain duck species. They appear to be hunchbacked in flight. Males and females have the same appearance.
     red-throated loon (Gavia stellata)
     Pacific loon (Gavia pacifica)
     common loon (Gavia immer)

Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Ciconiidae (Storks)
     wood stork (Mycteria americana)

Order: Suliformes
Family: Anhingidae (Darters)
     anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

Family: Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants) - Cormorants are larger than ducks and have an aquatic lifestyle. They have a black body and belly, green eyes and a long tail. Both sexes are alike in appearance. The bill is thin with a downward hook at the tip. Members sit straight up while resting at the water's edge. They fly in straight lines or a "Y" formation and do not make noises while in flight. When swimming, they float low in water.
     double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
     Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)