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#122688 - 07/19/03 01:32 AM Avian Respritory System  
Joined: May 2002
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happybirds Offline
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happybirds  Offline
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Dr Mike - do you have any articles on the respritory system of birds? Actually, what I am looking for is information on how they breathe.

It is my understanding that avians do not breathe as we do.

They also cannot cough out any fumes or smoke or anything that they inhale, and that is why they are so suseptible to them. (no diaphram?)

They inhale and exhale as we do - at least it seems that they do, but I have heard that the air is moved along in the body by the next breath that they take, so they really aren't inhaling and exhaling in the same manner as we do.

I really have myself confused - can you help. (geesh)

#122689 - 07/19/03 03:21 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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Dr. Mike Offline
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Dr. Mike  Offline
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New Jersey
Hi Happybirds

Check this out - if you have questions about how it works, let me know smile

http://www.mytoos.com/airsacs.html

Dr. Mike

#122690 - 07/19/03 03:46 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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Gloria Offline
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Gloria  Offline
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Portland, OR
Well, I have one question. How does *flight* effect respiration? I once heard from somewhere (possably a birdkeeper I used to work with, I'm not sure) that each wing beat forces air in and out of their respiratory system, so that they end up breathing faster, deeper, and more efficantly when they fly. Is this true?

Gloria
who thinks it's cool that the Barheaded Goose is able to fly at an altitude equal to that of top of Mt. Everest. We weak humans call that altitude 'The Death Zone' because it will kill us if we stay to long.

#122691 - 07/20/03 07:27 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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Dr. Mike Offline
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Dr. Mike  Offline
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New Jersey
Hi Gloria

The bird's lungs are not very “compliant”. That is, they don't expand and contract much, like ours. That is the job of the elegant set of airsacs. They act like bellows. As a bird flaps it's wings, this causes the airsacs to expand and contract, forcing air through the system.

The keel is the anchor bone for the two sets of muscles that pull the wings up and flap them down. As these muscles work, the keel pulls the breast plate up and down. This causes the abdominal cavity (actually the “ceolomic (pronounced seelomic) cavity”) to have negative, then positive air pressure, causing the airsacs to expand and contract.

Remember, the system is a one-way flow, so there is a constant flow of air through the lungs. Oxygen is exchanging with CO2 100% of the time, rather that part time. The faster the wings flap, the more air is driven through the lungs and the more exchange can take place.

There are other adaptations that allow the bird to respirate more efficiently, as well. One (which allows the extreme tolerance to high altitudes) is that avian hemoglobin has a higher “affinity” for oxygen. O2 “sticks” to it better, allowing a higher percentage of that hemoglobin present to be carrying O2.

Also, birds have a higher percentage of red blood cells than mammals by body weight (10 – 12% of a bird's body weight is blood, compared to 7 – 8 % in the mammal, and a higher percentage of whole blood is composed of RBC's), again allowing for more O2 to be carried.

Avian RBC's have a nucleus, unlike mammals. This allows them to last much longer and be able to use other chemicals than just glucose for their energy needs (free fatty acids). This makes them more efficient and allows other tissues to utilize the available glucose.

I agree, birds are VERY C@@L. Every single difference between them and mammals is in place to allow for flight. I could go on and on…..

Dr. Mike
Who thinks that its way cool that hitch-hiking hummingbirds have been seen jumping out of the feathers on the backs of geese in South America when they land from their journey over the Gulf on their southern migration. laugh

#122692 - 07/21/03 06:03 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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Gloria Offline
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Gloria  Offline
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Portland, OR
Thanks for explaining that! I didn't know that about the hummingbirds! *g*

#122693 - 07/24/03 01:13 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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chris Offline
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chris  Offline
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New Albany, IN
Dr. Mike...
You write very clearly. I've read many very convaluted descriptions of the respritory systems and seen many necroposies...but now I think I could explain "how birds breathe" to other people.

thanks!!!

#122694 - 07/24/03 02:16 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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Dr. Mike Offline
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Dr. Mike  Offline
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New Jersey
Chris,

Thanks for the compliment!
I'm pleased I can help you spread the good word about our feathered friends!
Keep up the great work at the raptor center! People like you make rehabilitation possible!

Dr. Mike smile

#122695 - 09/15/03 03:56 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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SUNNY Offline
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SUNNY  Offline
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VALENCIA,CALIFORNIA
Sorry for dragging this back up but I found a clip that demonstrates the breathing of a bird that I thought some may find interesting. You need shockwave to view http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/multimedia/birdlungs/

#122696 - 09/15/03 04:18 AM Re: Avian Respritory System  
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Frosty's Mom Offline
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Frosty's Mom  Offline
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Valencia, CA
Awesome clip M2Mom. Where do you find this stuff?! Here's another question along this line: Humans exhale carbon dioxide - what do birds "exhale" - the same? No Clinton jokes please <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" /> <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" />


"The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind"
- Carly Simon

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