Is "a reddish breast" a characteristic of birds?


This is a serious question in English cognitive linguistics: how can English-speaking peopel define a "bird"? I want to talk about this in cognitive view because it does not relate to any biological points. People have to find several "typical" birds then define a "bird",nothing to do with DNAs. Robin with a reddish breast is a "very typical" bird in Europe and North America, we use many "properties" of Robin to define a "bird", flying, singing, a beak,etc. Is "a reddish breast" a characteristic of birds,in your mind? I'm not sure whether it is a pure English question, please inform me if not.
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  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It's not really a language question, but I can tell you that "no" that is not part of my idea of a bird. I expect a bird to have feathers, wings, and a beak. The size, shape, and color are variable.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Very few species of birds have red breasts, so to echo what Cagey said, no - red breasts are not considered to be a characteristic of birds, at all.

    I can think of just a handful of British species with red breasts (crossbills, redstart, robin, chaffinch, bullfinch, and only the males in the last two examples), out of well over 600 bird species on the British list; there are far far more species of birds that are brown and dull (what we call LBJs - little brown jobs) or black. There are others with red over more of its body than just its breast, but they are still a minority of birds.

    The main characteristics of birds are: feathers, a beak/bill, wings, and they lay eggs. They don't have to fly though (e.g. kiwi, penguins).
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