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How do birds breathe?
Birds are very active and engaging creatures. Mother nature has made them so beautiful that we humans get easily attracted to them. If we think of an eagle, a hawk, or a hummingbird, we can draw a picture of how busy and active these creatures are. Therefore, we often give birds a very high energy diet because of their high metabolic rate.
But, we often wonder how these beautiful creatures manage to obtain all that energy. We wonder that when they fly so high, and at that very height, they must get exhausted, so how do they cope with such tiresome activities? It depicts that they must have a complicated breathing system. Hence, how do birds breathe?
Overview of the respiratory system of birds:
It is evident; we human beings are mammals; we don’t always do such fatiguing activities. We can sit, lay, and sleep and can get our energy back. On the other hand, birds have to remain in the sky. They have to search for food and shelter all the time.
So, how does a mammal’s respiratory system be enough for a bird? No, it is not. The respiratory system of mammals is not sufficient to provide enough oxygen to the birds. So, how do birds breathe then?
We can compare the respiratory systems of both mammals and birds. In mammals, like us, we breathe through our nostrils. There is a pipe-like structure called trachea, which serves as a bridge to connect our nose and throat to the lungs.
The air flows through nostrils, goes to the trachea, and from there, trachea carries it to two structures called primary bronchi, which spread into both of the lungs—the further subdivision of bronchi into primary bronchi and further into bronchioles which end up in sac-like structures called alveoli.
The alveolus is a system for exchanging gases. As there are pressure differences, the blood capillaries which surround the alveoli take oxygen through its band carbon dioxide diffuses back into the alveoli.
This system of mammals is not sufficient enough because a two-way gaseous exchange system is not enough to maintain high-quality oxygen until the next inhalation. So how do birds breathe?
On the other hand, there is a more competent respiratory system that is suitable for the birds. In birds, there are fragile walled sac-like structures. As compared to humans, the direction of the air is unidirectional. These sacs are present throughout the whole lungs, and they serve as vessels to direct the airflow in one direction. So if they are present all over, how do birds breathe?
Another major distinction is that mammals have grapes like alveoli, while in birds, these structures are replaced by tubular structures known as Parabronchi. They serve as the same stop for a gaseous exchange like alveoli in mammals. Pararonchi is situated in the lungs overall.
The whole direction of the airflow is in one order throughout the lungs. Then, how do birds breathe? The advantage of these thin structures is that they provide continuous airflow in both inhaling and exhaling.
When they inhale, the air goes through primary bronchi to secondary bronchi, which ends in the lungs. Some of the air remains in secondary bronchi to the back of the lungs. While most of the air traveled through posterior air sacs, At the same moment, the air is extracted through the anterior sacs to the secondary and then primary bronchi providing one-way airflow from back to front. So now, when someone asks how birds breathe. Now, you know the answer. Are you birds lover or do you want to know about how birds poop?
How do birds breathe through their butts?
From the above section, it is clear that birds have a very efficient respiratory system, which enables them to fly even at heights where you hardly find oxygen. A very primary feature that distinguishes birds from other land creatures is that their respiratory system contains thin sac-like structures that are present throughout their body instead of convoluted diaphragms like mammals. The flow of air is also unidirectional, making it more efficient.
When a bird takes in the air it travels through nostrils and travels to the posterior air sac and then through the trachea, it travels to their butts. Now when birds exhale it does not leave the body directly rather it goes to the anterior sacs and then to lungs where oxygen is absorbed while carbon dioxide is expelled out. Now during the second inhalation, the air moves to lungs and then to anterior sacs. Now the second last time air is expelled out through nostrils.
In this way, with every breath, a bird takes, the breathing process completes in two cycles. This two-step process makes sure that the body of the bird always remains filled up with oxygen. The lungs of the bird are rigid, and the structures where gaseous exchange takes place are in the form of tubular structures. The deoxygenated blood is present in these tubules, which comes into the lungs opposite to the direction of airflow. Through this process explanation, we are clear about “How do birds breathe?”
This magnificent breathing system is present in birds and enables these species to fly over high mountains like the Bar-headed goose. On the other hand, humans can’t make peace with heights. At the height of 20 -22 feet above from the sea level it is evident that we feel difficulty in breathing. It is because the lungs of humans or mammals don’t completely exhale the air that contains carbon dioxide.It makes the human to dream about
How do birds breathe inside eggs?
You may never think about what you are frying in your pan while you are cooking an egg. Eggs are such magic ovals which we just randomly fry in breakfasts. There is a whole life present, which we ignore.
Inside the hard shell of the egg, there are two fluids present: one is egg white called albumin, and the yellow part is called yolk. The fertilized embryo develops within the yolk. It takes food and energy both from the yolk and albumin. Inside the egg, there is everything present for the source to grow into a healthy chick except fresh air.
Mammals in their mother’s tummies breathe through the umbilical cord. But, how do birds breathe inside their eggs? They have coping mechanisms for this, as well.
So the story is when the mother bird lays eggs, the eggs are hot. As they cool down, the fluids inside the egg shrink a bit and the two membranes which are present just beneath the eggshell contracts and create a space between them. This space is called air-sac. The embryo breathes through this air sac. Now you must be wondering how do they exhale?
So, you may have noticed pores on the eggshell the carbon dioxide releases out through these pores. And that’s how a bird breathes when it is inside the egg.
How do birds breathe at high altitudes?
The most prominent bird that flies at the most height is Bar-headed goose. But to fly at heights, you also need to have a very high energy source. It may seem nice to fly, but it is a very exhausting process, it takes ten to twenty times more energy than walking. Therefore bids continuously take in oxygen while flying to provide energy to their muscles.
But, at high altitudes, there is not enough oxygen. So how do birds breathe at high altitudes? They cope up with this through a mechanism. These birds have a higher number of hemoglobins, so instead of taking in more air, they can provide oxygen to their blood even with less amount of oxygen.