Bills Regulate Body Temperature

July 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

On 20 July 2011 the research done by a team of scientists from the well-known Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center was published in the Ecography journal, and has revealed more insight into the use of bird’s bills. Working at the Conservation Biology Institute of the Smithsonian Center, the team focused their attention on five different sparrow species that prefer the marshes of various regions, and discovered that they use their bills for more than just eating food and foraging. It was shown that not only are their bills adapted to their diets, but they can also assist birds to regulate body heat.

There were ten sparrow species and their subspecies that the team found to enjoy the salt marshes that are located along the North American Gulf Coasts, and they looked at more than one thousand three hundred individual birds. When measuring the individual birds and looking at their bills, along with the temperatures where they reside, it has been recorded that the size of their bills were determined by this feature as well, as their bills assisted them to regulate their body heat during the soaring temperatures of the summer. The higher the average summer temperature of a specific region, the bigger the bills were on the birds. To release their body heat, it was determined that the birds are able to transfer blood into the tissue that is found in their bills and from there the heat is expelled into the air. Therefore the bigger the bill on the bird, the more heat is able to be released into the air.

This was confirmed by comparing the birds in the different areas, as the birds living in the cooler marsh areas have smaller bills than those living in higher temperatures. Leader of the research team and director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Russ Greenberg, commented that is has been known that in animals, such as rabbits and seals, blood is able to be increased to the extremities of animals that are not well insulated, but now it is known that birds are able to cool down their body temperature through their bills, as well as retain their body moisture, which they so desperately need in such high temperatures. The team is now continuing their research with Brock University physiologists, trying to form a more detailed database by using thermal imaging.

Research into Alloanointing in Crested Auklets

November 14, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

Crested auklets nest in large colonies on isolated island cliffs in Siberia and Alaska. These small black and grey seabirds have bright orange bills, with white facial feathers and a prominent feathered crest rising from their foreheads. Recent research carried out on crested auklets nesting on the St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea off the coast of Siberia, has revealed an interesting courting ritual which, until now, has not been observed in birds.

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Selecting a Healthy Pet Bird

April 9, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

Choosing a bird for a pet can be very satisfying and enjoyable but there are a few things you need to consider before making your final choice. We are going to look at how you as a new bird owner can check that the bird you choose is physically healthy. Also we will give you a few pointers to help you distinguish how old the bird you are purchasing is.

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A Hint for Identifying Sandpipers

February 19, 2007 by  
Filed under Birding Tips

Sandpipers are familiar to most birdwatchers. Yet their identification can be very frustrating. Most sandpipers are feathered in browns or soft grays, and gather in flocks that contain many species. Some are distinctively patterned, but others are so similar even experienced birders have trouble identifying them.

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Kauai’s hideouts for Hawaiian Honeycreepers

October 27, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Bird-watchers in the Hawaiian island of Kauai should visit the Alaka’i Swamp, or nearby Koke’e State Park. This high-elevation rain forest is one of the wettest places on earth- bring a rain coat! – but it is also a good place to look for Hawaii’s incredible honeycreepers.

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