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Birds have appeared in culture for thousands of years. They have been captured or bred as poultry for use as food. Raptors have been used in falconry, often to catch other birds, whether for pleasure or for food. They have been kept as cagebirds for their song, or raised for traditional sports such as cockfighting and pigeon racing.
Birds have been depicted in paintings, sculpture, poetry and prose, music, ballet, and films such as Hitchcock's The Birds. Birds have appeared in mythology and religion from the time of Ancient Egypt, where the sacred ibis was venerated as a symbol of the god Thoth.
Their feathers have been used as adornments, whether for the headdresses of tribal peoples or the hats and boas of fashionable ladies. Today, millions of people enjoy birdwatching, and many put out birdfeeders to attract birds to their houses and gardens. Birds such as canaries and parrots are popular pets.
Birds have for at least four thousand years been bred as poultry for use as food. The most important species is the chicken, providing some 20% of the animal protein eaten by the world's human population. However, Ducks, geese, pheasants, guineafowl and turkeys are all significant economically around the world. Less commonly-raised species such as the ostrich are starting to be farmed for their meat, which is low in cholesterol; they have also been kept for their feathers, and for leather from their skin.
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