Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Day 163 - A Bit More About The Amazing Anatomical Adaptations Of Beautiful Birds Part 2

Hi all today is day 163 and I`m going to be completing my post on the Anatomy of a Bird. Birds are specifically designed for and have evolved for flight. Yesterday we focused on the outside of a bird, today we`ll be looking in a bit more detail at the inside of the bird before finishing off with feathers.
So without further ado, here are the facts:
  • Even bird`s brains are designed for flight.  The Cerebellum is responsible for co-ordination, and so because birds make so many quick movements this part of the brain is very big. 

  • The Cerebral Hemisphere which is responsible for repetitive movements or behaviours is also very big. Some birds are known to be very intelligent, for example the study of a crow learning to solve puzzles to access food. Here's a video about that:

  • Their digestive system is complex and includes a gizzard which isn`t found in other animals.  The gizzard is a thick-walled part of a bird`s stomach responsible for breaking down or grinding food. As birds use so much energy with all their constant movements, they need a lot of calories from their food and may need to eat a third of their body weight per day.

  • This is why it`s incredibly important to help them with their diet especially over the winter. Birds can be herbivore, carnivore or omnivore, and birds with a mostly plant / seed diet actually need a more complicated digestive system than those who eat meat.

  • Birds have a different type of breathing / respiratory system too.  Their lungs have extensions to them called air sacs, so inhaled air passes through them and through the lungs, this means that oxygen is transferred to the blood during both inhalation and exhalation. 

  • This means the bird has a better use of oxygen for flying and allows them to get by with comparatively small lungs for the size of their body.  It also helps them to be able to hold their breath when they go under water to fish.

I'm watching you!
  • Bird`s eyes are huge in relation to their heads which gives them the ability to see more detail and can detect movement much better than us.  They turn their heads to be able to see all around them.  Their eyes not only work together, but can also work independently of each other!  So when a robin cocks its head to one side, it is looking in that direction! 
Barn Owls have orange eyes as they hunt at
dusk and dawn

  • So birds have a much wider field of vision than other animals, which helps them to survive.  Some birds have very little forwards vision (binocular) e.g. some water birds only have sidewards vision (monocular) , and some raptors such as owls have eyes on the fronts of their faces so have very good binocular vision which helps them judge distance, but of course owls also have the added advantage of being able to turn their heads almost all the way round!

  • Incidentally, an interesting owl eyesight fact: some owls have orange eyes, which means they hunt in the dusk and dawn, while others have brown eyes which means they hunt at night.

My feathers are for camoflage
  • A Bird`s feathers not only enable flight, but they also give important messages to other birds.   Females choose a mate depending on the brightness and colourfulness of their plumage. His colourfulness will decrease when breeding season ends.  Females are often less colourful and less bright than males, but do you know why? It is so she is less conspicuous and more camouflaged when she is incubating her eggs in her nest! 
My feathers are for showing off!

  • Birds tend to have counter shading as a means of protection - the gradual changes of shade make them more camouflaged. Birds molt once a year at least, where they shed their outer feathers, so if you see a bird that looks quite shaggy and raggy, it is probably molting.
Here are some links to some more information:
Hope you enjoyed.

1 comment:

  1. Another really interesting post Zach. I've always loved Crows for their clever puzzle solving skills and remember being blown away by their ability to drop stones into jars of water to retrieve food and other things, so cool! - Tasha