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Glossary: Helpful Words Relating to Shorebirds & Wetlands

Adaptation -- a characteristic or behavior that helps an organism survive in its environment. Long pointed wings and long bills are important shorebird adaptations.

Biodiversity -- the variety of life. Biodiversity can be considered at many levels such as the gene, species, population, community, and habitat levels.

Breeding ground -- the place where a bird lays its eggs and raises its young.

Breeding range -- the geographical area in which a bird lays its eggs and raises its young.

Cheet -- the sound a shorebird makes when calling.

Ecosystem -- a network of plants and animals that live together and depend on each other for survival.

Endangered -- a species or ecosystem reduced in size so that it is vulnerable to extinction.

Estuary -- a partly enclosed bay where salty ocean water is mixed with freshwater.

Field marks -- special characteristics that help identify one bird from another.

Flyway -- route used by migratory birds between breeding (summer) and non-breeding (winter) grounds.

Food chain -- a series of living things in which each member feeds on the one before and is in time eaten by the one after.

Food web -- a complex network of many food chains.

Habitat -- an environment of a particular kind, such as the tundra, pampas, or estuary.

Invertebrates -- animals without backbones.

Migration -- seasonal movements of a species, usually from non-breeding areas and back again, often with intermediate stops for feeding and resting.

Morphology -- what an organism physically looks like.

Molt -- the periodical shedding and replacing of feathers.

Mudflat -- a major foraging zone for shorebirds along the edges of the bay. Shorebirds use their bills to probe in the mud for clams, worms, and other animals.

Neotropical -- an adjective used to describe birds that winter in Central and South America.

Neotropical bird -- a bird that migrates seasonally between North America and the migratory tropics of Central and South America.

Nonbreeding ground -- the region where a bird goes to feed, rest, molt (replace feathers), and prepare for the next breeding season.

Non-breeding range -- the geographical area in which a bird lives during the part of the year when it is not breeding or migrating.

Ornithologist -- a scientist who studies birds.

Plumage -- a bird's coat of feathers.

Population -- the number of animals of the same type, usually the same species, that live in a given area.

Potholes -- small, waterlogged depressions.

Predator -- an animal that lives by killing and consuming other animals.

Preen -- to clean and repair feathers. During resting and feeding breaks birds use staging ares to preen their feather which should be in perfect condition to function efficiently during flight.

Prevailing -- to be frequent; predominant.

Range -- the region throughout which an organism occurs.

Raptor -- a bird of prey.

Shorebirds -- birds that typically have long legs for wading in the mud and long pointed wings for migration. They include sandpipers, plovers, oystercatchers, snipes, and stilts, among others.

Staging area -- an important area for shorebirds along their migration path. These areas provide food and a place to rest and condition (preen) their feathers.

Stopover -- a place to briefly stop to rest and eat while undertaking a journey.

Tundra -- a treeless plain of the arctic and subarctic regions.

Watershed -- an area where water from precipitation (snow, rain, etc.) drains into a particular body of water (stream, pond, river, bay, etc.)

Wetland -- low land covered with water at least part of the year. Examples include marshes, swamps, potholes, bogs, mud flats, river deltas, and floodplains.

Wintering grounds (also known as "non-breeding ground)--a region where shorebirds go to feed, rest, molt and prepare for the next breeding season.



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