Criteria to Distinguish Generalist Birds from Specialist Birds

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There are many characteristics that distinguish a generalist bird compared to a specialist bird. Generalists birds have large geographic ranges that they live in, can live in most climates and they eat a variety of food. Specialist birds must have certain conditions to be able to thrive. They need specific climate and habitat and certain food to eat. Without these things, a specialist will go extinct whereas a generalist can manage the risks (Max).

The Great Blue Heron is a part of the Heron Family and is a generalist. The Great Blue Herons live in fresh water and salt water habitats. Along with grasslands, agricultural fields, and swamps. They also can thrive in a variety of climates these birds live all over the United States (even in Alaska) they also live in Central America and some parts of Canada. The Great Blue Heron will eat anything close to them this includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects, and other birds (The Great Blue Heron). These birds can adapt to many different habitats and climates along with the variety of foods they eat which why they are considered generalists.

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The American Robin is a part of the Thrushes family. This bird is a generalist. The American Robin is found across most of the Continent and you can find them on lawns, fields, city parks, woodlands, mountains, and even burned forests and tundra (American Robin). These birds can be found in many different climates. Year-round they are found in most parts of the United States, during the summer you can find them in Canada and Alaska and during the winter you can find them in parts of Mexico and Florida. The American Robin eats invertebrates and fruits they usually try and find fruits with bugs in them to complete their diet (American Robin). These indicators show why the American Robin is a generalist.

The Double Crested Cormorant is a part of the Cormorant family. The Double Crested Cormorant is considered a generalist because of its ability to adapt to many different living conditions. Their diet consists of fish, but they can adapt and eat other things like insects, crabs, crayfish, shrimp, frogs, plant material and sometimes snakes (Kaufman). This bird is very adaptable and can be found in most aquatic habitats. These include ponds, lakes, rivers, and even swamps any habitat that can support fishing needs. Their adaptability is why they are considered a generalist.

The Wood Stork is a part of the Stork Family and is a specialist. They have a certain habitat, climate, and resources that they need to have to survive. The Wood Stork only eats fish and usually minnows, killifish and mullet. The Wood Stork lives in marshes and swamps. In the United States, you can only find the Wood Stork year-round in the southern parts of Florida and in the winter the southern coast lines. They are mostly found year-round in Central America. This is also the only Stork still breading in the United States (Wood Stork). The number of Wood Storks in the United States is slowly declining because of the disruption of their habitats and water flow. Therefore they are considered a specialist.

The Great Blue Heron, American Robin, and the Double Crested Cormorant are all considered generalist. This is because of their ability to adapt to different habitats and climate along with the ability to eat many different foods. The Wood Stork is different from these other birds and needs a specific climate, habitat, and food to be able to survive. Therefore the Wood Stork considered a specialist and not a generalist. These birds are all very different, but their similarities in their ability to adapt or not make it easier to classify them as a generalist or a specialist.

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