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Do birds "pant"?

Posted By: Wordwind

Do birds "pant"? - 07/09/02 07:59 PM

I saw a bird yesterday that was very thirsty. It was caught inside our screened-in porch. The little thing was flying up against the screen, wearing itself out in the heat, and its little beak was open--and it looked as though it was "panting."

But I don't think that's the word that should be applied to birds.

What is the word that would describe a bird, with an open beak--a bird that appears to be hot and thirsty?

We rescued it, by the way. Gently encouraged it to move along the screen with a broom--without really touching it. And it flew to freedom once it found the open door.

I found it interesting that it kept its little consciousness on the screen toward the yard, and never once appeared to try to enter through a window.

Best regards,
WW

Posted By: wwh

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 07/09/02 10:15 PM

Dear WW: Birds have a very interesting lung arrangement. The lung has to be very small, and very
effici;ent to avoid needless weight. When the bird breathes, the air goes all the way through the lung,
and into a thing like a condom, so that exchange is maximized. In mammals, only the upper portion gets
changed until maximum O2 intake is required by exertion, etc.
As you may have noticed, birds have very tiny nostrils, and must have to be mouth breathers, though
I do not know how to confirm this. A dog's panting is mostly a heat losing mechanism. Birds like your
trapped struggling one might need to lose heat, just as a dog would, and so overbreathe.

I once had some fun with the pharmacology prof. He was getting a bit senile, and not keeping up his reading of advances in physiology. He showed us an experiment that he thought proved a new drug stimulated
respiration in a cat. I challenged him to have cat breathe through the same apparatus without any drug.
He did, and the tracing was identical to the one with drug. He asked me to explain that. I said: "Your apparatus increases the physiological dead space." Same reason you can't hide underwater while breathing
through a three foot length of hose. I still laugh remembering movies showing someone hiding under water
while breathing through a straw. Can't be done, not enough exchange, tidal air way too low.

Posted By: Wordwind

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 07/10/02 11:25 AM

Dear wwh,

You wrote: When the bird breathes, the air goes all the way through the lung, and into a thing like a condom, so that exchange is maximized.

So, from what you wrote, I gather that there is a second organ into which the air flows? There's the lung plus the second organ? Maybe I should google up a diagram of the bird's respiratory system. And would this be true, too, of flightless birds, such as ostriches? I wouldn't expect so.

I wonder why, when looking at birds, I rarely see them with open mouths? It appears that their tiny nostrils are doing just fine!

Also, thank you very much for telling us about the pipe-under-water impossibility. How could so many movies present such an escape? Interesting.

Best regards,
WW

Posted By: wwh

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 07/10/02 02:04 PM

Dear WW: Birds' nostrils are far to tiny to be good for anything except taking
an air sample to flow past olfactory nerve endings. Some birds have a keen sense
of smell. Vultures can detect carrion for miles. I have never seen a bird with its
beak open, but it would only need to be ajar a tiny bit to suffice.
Remember, I am talking about things I learned over sixty years ago!

Posted By: Wordwind

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 07/10/02 07:14 PM

Dear wwh,

Nice having this little chat with you about birds. I doubt anybody else is reading here! Ha!

Anyway, I read a little about the bird's respiratory system this afternoon and learned that there are sacs into which the air goes--nine sacs altogether plus the lungs. The air goes into the sacs before it passes into the lungs according to the reference I checked.

No sac looked like a condom in the one diagram I checked out, but that was probably just the way the illustrator diagrammed the system.

There was nothing written about birds that were suffering heat and how they may breathe any differently.

There was an interesting note that we mammals breathe impure air mixed with incoming air, never completely pure--but birds always have pure air to breathe, air pollution aside.

There was also mentioning of cranes have such a long trachea that it loops around--thereby giving them their loud, sonorous calls.

Thanks for the interesting information so far, and, after I finish my final paper, I'll return to birds.

Bird regards,
WhoopingWind

Posted By: wwh

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 07/10/02 07:57 PM

Dear WW: I can't remember whether what I described was something I saw in dissecting a pigeon,
or a diagram used as study aid. Anyway, the point was that sir traveled rapidly though lung tissue
in both directions. So far I haven't found anything good on internet. I did find one URL that you
might like to browse through.http://home.earthlink.net/~maalatt/science.html#resources.
Didn't see anything about money being charged.

Posted By: zootsuit

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 09/11/02 03:07 AM

Most interesting reading!
As far as I recall from my vet anatomy days, air passes into the lungs first and then on to the air sacs. When the bird breathes out, some air passes straight from sacs to trachea but most travels from sacs to lungs and then out. Birds have no diaphragm, and both inspiration and expiration are active processes that the bird performs by lifting and lowering its sternum. Hence gentle handling is necessary - as any sustained pressure on the breastbone will suffocate the bird.
Birds' nostrils are quite functional. Mouth breathing is abnormal and most commonly signifies disease/parasites/heat stress. Firmly taping shut the beak of a bird (e.g to protect hands during examination!)does not lead to any respiratory distress.

Posted By: sjm

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 09/11/02 04:12 AM

> Firmly taping shut the beak of a bird (e.g to protect hands during examination!)does not lead to any respiratory distress.

Except, perhaps to a kiwi, whose nostrils are at the very tip of its beak. Tape that beak shut in the wrong place, and one might asphyxiate the puir wee thing.

Posted By: zootsuit

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 09/11/02 08:23 AM

good point sjm!

mind you - with this little bird it would probably be more pertinent to watch out for the claws than the beak!

Posted By: zootsuit

Post deleted by zootsuit - 09/11/02 08:23 AM

Posted By: Wordwind

Re: Do birds "pant"? - 09/11/02 09:14 AM

I'm pretty sure my reference indicated that the air went into the air sacs before the lungs, but I'll try to find the site later today.

Thanks for the information on open-beaked stress/disease/et al breathing, zoot! That was the kind of breathing I witnessed in the little bird caught on our back porch.

WW

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