Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Etymologically, the word "ornithology" derives from the ancient Greek ὄρνις ornis ("bird") and λόγος logos ("rationale" or "explanation").
The science of ornithology has a long history and studies on birds have helped develop several key concepts in evolution, behavior and ecology such as the definition of species, the process of speciation, instinct, learning, ecological niches, guilds, island bio geography, paleography and conservation.
While early ornithology was principally concerned with descriptions and distributions of species, ornithologists today seek answers to very specific questions, often using birds as models to test hypotheses or predictions based on theories. Most modern biological theories apply across taxonomic groups and the number of professional scientists who identify themselves as "ornithologists" has therefore declined. A wide range of tools and techniques are used in ornithology, both inside the laboratory and out in the field, and innovations are constantly made
BIRDS MENTIONED IN QURAN
There are 2 birds which are specially mentioned in the holy Qur’an .They are: 1) Hoopoe and 2) Crow.
The Hoopoe is a colorful bird found across Afro-Eurasia, notable for its distinctive "crown" of feathers. The hoopoe is the national bird of Israel. The Hoopoe has a great importance in the history of Islam. HOOPOE has been specifically mentioned in Sarah # 27, An-Naml, twice in the following manner:
‘’And he sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent?’’ (Surah 27: Ayah20)
‘’ But the Hoopoe tarried not far: he compassed (territory) which thou has not compassed and I have come to thee from Saba with tidings true.’’ (Surah 27: Ayah22)
Hoopoe was mentioned in the Qur’an not because of its beauty, but it was the main animal which prophet Suleiman (A.S) used during his period. One day Suleiman (A. S) found out that the Hoopoe was absent in the court and was angry, but when the Hoopoe returned it described about a land named Sheba, that their people worshiped sun than Allah. So prophet Suleiman (A.S) decided to change it and ended up changing the queen of Sheba, who first rejected to accept Islam, and her subjects.
The Crow is a widely distributed genus of birds in the family Corvidae. They are black in color. Crow has been specifically mentioned in Surah 5 sūrat l-māidah in the following manner:
‘’Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, "O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?" And he became of the regretful.’’ (Surah5:Ayah31)
There is a story behind the crow. Imam Ja’afar as siddiq (A.S) told that Qabil and Habil fought each other and Qabil killed Habil. But he wanted to protect his brother’s dead body from being devoured by wild animals. So he carried his brother in a sack and then Allah (swt) wanted to show Qabil how to hide the body of his brother. So Allah (swt) sent two crows to the earth, they quarreled each other and one killed the other. Then the killer dug a hole in the earth and buried the other crow and covered it with dirt. Then Qabil also thought of the same and did it.
There is one more kind of bird that was mentioned in the holy qur’an .This was not a single bird but a group of birds called Ababeel which can be seen in the qur’an in the following verse:
‘’And sent against them birds, in flocks’’(Surah 105:Ayah3)
Here the ‘’birds ,in flocks’’ is referred as the Ababeel. Allah sent these birds to destroy the army that had come to destroy the holy mosque in Makkah. The Ethiopian king who wanted to destroy the kabah came with armies of elephants but Allah the sent the ababeel and they threw stones from sky which destroyed the whole army.
We are blessed that we have an ornithologist from our Muslim society ,Salim Ali (12 November 1896 – 20 June 1987) was an Indian ornithologist and naturalist. Sometimes referred to as the "birdman of India", Salim Ali was among the first Indians to conduct systematic bird surveys across India and his bird books helped develop ornithology.
He became the key figure behind the Bombay Natural History Society after 1947 and used his personal influence to garner government support for the organization, create the Bharatpur bird sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and prevent the destruction of what is now the Silent Valley National Park. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 1976
Salim Ali was born into a Sulaimani Bohra Muslim family of Bombay, the ninth and youngest child. His father Moizuddin died when he was one year old and his mother Zeenat-un-nissa died when he was three. The children were brought up by his maternal uncle, Amiruddin Tyabji, and childless aunt, hamida Begum, in a middle-class household in Khetwadi, Mumbai
Salim was introduced to the serious study of birds by W. S. Millard, secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who identified an unusually colored sparrow that young Salim had shot for sport with his toy air gun. Millard identified it as a yellow-throated sparrow, and showed Salim around the Society's collection of stuffed birds. In his autobiography, The Fall of a Sparrow, Ali notes the yellow-throated sparrow event as the turning point of his life that led him into ornithology, an unusual career choice, especially for an Indian in those days.