Definitions and Context

Adaptation: traits developed over time that help organisms meet their basic needs and survive
Context: The adaptation of long narrow wings helps migrating birds make their long flight.

Breed: to produce young, hatch or give birth
Context: Many migrating birds fly north to breed.

Field Marks: characteristics used to identify something in the wild
Context: Birdwatchers use field marks such as stripes to identify a bird.

Inherited trait: an inborn characteristic or behavior that is passed from parent to offspring
Context: Adaptations are inherited traits.

Instinct: an inborn pattern of behavior
Context: Instinct causes the Golden-cheeked Warbler to migrate to Central Texas in the spring and build a nest from Juniper bark and insect silk.

Landmarks: natural or manmade features on land such as rivers, mountains and cities
Context: You can use landmarks to determine how far along you are on a car trip.

Learned trait: a characteristic or behavior that is learned or developed through experience
Context: When a bird makes its first migration with its parents and learns where to go and where to find food, it has a learned trait.

Migrate: an annual move from one region to another
Context: Some songbirds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico to South America for the winter.

Orient: put in relative position
Context: The first thing I do when I look at a map is orient the map and myself to known landmarks.

Ornithologist: someone who studies birds
Context: It is great fun to bird-watch with an ornithologist because she can tell you about the common birds without looking them up.

Silhouette: the outline around something
Context: With the sun in the background, sometimes all you can see of a bird is its silhouette against the sky.

Topography: the technique of representing surface areas of land on maps, or the surface features such as valleys and hills on the land
Context: Topography such as rivers and cliffs allow migrating birds to orient their migration.