BIO430 Avian Biology (8)


This subject provides an in-depth overview of the biology of birds. This includes the structure and function of feathers, the skeletal, muscle and physiological adaptations allowing flight, the highly efficient respiratory, circulatory and excretory systems supporting endurance, and the structure of the brain and sensory organs that underlie bird behaviour. Special attention is paid to how the anatomy and physiology has evolved differently across species to allow birds to survive in a particular environment. During the second part of this subject, students will gain in-depth knowledge about the main, usually annual events that marks a bird’s life: reproduction, moult and migration. On completion of this subject, students will know and understand the fundamentals of bird biology and be able to apply this knowledge to further study bird ecology, evolution, behaviour and conservation.

+ Subject Availability Modes and Location

Session 1
OnlineAlbury-Wodonga Campus
Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: BIO430
Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject information

Duration Grading System School:
One sessionHD/FLSchool of Environmental Sciences

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the internal and external anatomy of birds;
  • be able to demonstrate fundamental knowledge about the avian respiratory, circulatory and excretory systems;
  • be able to demonstrate broad knowledge about bird physiology;
  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the sensory and neural mechanism controlling bird behaviour;
  • be able to demonstrate a broad understanding of migration and how birds navigate;
  • be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge about the variety of bird life histories and breeding systems;
  • be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of avian reproduction;
  • be able to review, relate and synthesise their knowledge of avian biology to bird ecology, evolution, behaviour and conservation.


The subject will cover the following topics:
  • Topic 1: What makes a bird a bird? The early evolution of birds and the diversity of modern birds
  • Topic 2: Feathers, the most distinctive feature of birds
  • Topic 3: A body designed for flight
  • Topic 4: Physiology of birds
  • Topic 5: Bird brains and senses
  • Topic 6: How birds produce a beautiful song
  • Topic 7: The annual cycles of birds
  • Topic 8: Migration, navigation and territoriality
  • Topic 9: Life history strategies and breeding systems
  • Topic 10: Mate choice and sexual selection
  • Topic 11: From sex to eggs
  • Topic 12: Parents and their offspring


The information contained in the 2017 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: 25 August 2017. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.