Horned Grebe, © Photo by Steve Kaye

Kids Ask the Most Incredible Questions

Questions asked by Kids

Horned Grebe, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Kids Ask the Most Incredible Questions

Horned Grebe, Breeding Plumage, Showing Its Belly Button (Sort of)

Kids Can Ask the Most Incredible Questions

For example:

1) Do Birds Have a Belly Button?

Answer: Yes, it’s very small and it’s covered by feathers. So it’s impossible to see it, as shown in the above photo (i.e., you can’t see it).

Their belly button marks the spot where they were connected to the yolk sack while in the shell.

Egyptian Goose, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Kids Ask the Most Incredible Questions

Egyptian Goose, Juvenile, Showing Its Tastebuds

2) Do Birds Have Taste Buds?

Answer: Yes, and the number is small compared to humans.

People have about 9,000 taste buds, and birds have fewer than 400. Most birds have fewer. Pigeons, for example, have only about 100 and chickens have about 25.

This may explain why birds don’t put spices on their food.

Red-tailed Hawk, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Kids Ask the Most Incredible Questions

Red-tailed Hawk, Napping

3) Do Birds Have Eyelids

Answer: Yes, and in fact, they have three eyelids.

First, birds have a pair of outer eyelids that they close while sleeping. On most birds, the lower eyelid is longer (instead of shorter, like on mammals). Note that the lower eyelid on the Red-tailed Hawk has moved up to cover its eye.

There’s an exception. Some owls have longer upper eyelids.

Green Heron, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Kids Ask the Most Incredible Questions

Green Heron, Juvenile, Showing Its Nictitating Membrane

And second, birds have a third, inner eyelid called the nictitating membrane. This membrane is almost transparent; and it moves from front to back, as shown in the above photo. (Note that it has covered only the front half of the eye.)

This special eyelid lubricates the eye and provides protection while allowing the bird to see.

Special Thanks

I want to extend thanks to the student who asked one of these questions.

I had visited a grade school to talk about birds. And while there I was in the role of teaching about birds. But for a moment she became my teacher by asking a question that set me off to learn the answer.

It’s a wonderful reminder that we learn from everyone.

Much success,

Steve Kaye

PS: I added a photo of a Horned Grebe in See Bird Photos.

Help Birds Tip

Provide Water

If you live in a dry area (or one having drought), you can help birds by putting out water.

Use empty food containers that have been washed. After a few days, discard the container and replace it with another clean one.

If possible, put the container in a tree or place where birds can drink safely, without the risk of being attacked by cats or other predators.

Birding Resources

New book – Owl: A Year in the Life of North American Owls, by Paul Bannick.

See this book at Barnes & Noble or on Paul’s Web Site.

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  • Bob Franz
    Posted at 05:33h, 07 October

    The last time I nictitated was in grade school when I was trying to get the attention of cute Susie Stegeman.

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