How do birds survive?
Deserts are baking hot, with no water. The Antarctic is freezing cold, with no plants. So even if an animal can survive in one place, there’s always another problem around the corner.
Adaptation - the problem of survival
All plants and animals have different features known as adaptations which help them to survive under the conditions in which they live
Adaptation is not just how animals are built; it is also what they do.
Polar bears hibernate in a den under the snow during the hardest part of winter. They also drift long distances on floating ice in order to reach their feeding quarters.
Birds have adapted amazingly to almost every environment. In the air, young swifts can fly for four years without landing once, and emperor penguins can dive 500 metres down underwater to catch fish. On land, in south-east Asia, bowerbirds build a garden of flowers just to attract a mate.
Take a closer look at the birds around you. You may wonder why a robin has a thin beak, while a sparrow’s is thick. Or why the robin is alone, while the sparrows are in a flock. Adaptation gives a good reason for what every bird looks like, and why it behaves the way it does.
In this section
Adaptation has produced more than a million different species of animals on Earth.
Adapted for flight
Flight is birds' most important adaptation. It takes them into an environment that most animals can't reach - the air.
How birds live together
Communication is the key to survival for many birds. Understanding each other helps birds to find food and avoid danger.
How birds find food and feed
Finding food isn't just about having specially adapted legs and beaks. It's also about the technique the bird uses.
Food, glorious food
Food is fuel for flight, so birds have to eat plenty and often. Small birds have to eat the most.