Bird Words with Cliff Shackelford: Cere

Harris' Hawk, Image: Gary Peeples USFWS

Harris’ Hawk, Image: Gary Peeples USFWS

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a name for everything—including those things about which we don’t give much thought. Like that little waxy lump between the beak and eyes of certain birds.

And it’s usually found in raptors and parrots.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford calls this feature a cere (seer).

Cere—c-e-r-e. And for people that like crossword puzzles, this might be a good one you might often see.

If you have a pet parakeet, parrot, or cockatoo, you will see that waxy, hard covering around the nostrils.

And that featherless hard area is the cere. People will see them in caged parrots, but in raptors, too. So, falconers will notice these unique features on these birds. And it’s just a waxy, hard covering to expose the nostrils.

So is this structure functional or just decorative?

It’s not very decorative, although it can be brightly colored in some raptors. But there’s no real understanding why these groups of birds—raptors and parrots—have it and no one else does. There’s another similar structure on a dove and a pigeon called an operculum; why don’t all birds have that? So, there are certain things that not all birds have.

Such as the cere (seer).

And that’s our word of the day here: cere.

The more you know….

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m
Cecilia Nasti.

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