The answers to the Just For Avian ID Quiz #10 are, as always, provided by 10,000 Birds’ own Avian Quizmaster, Jory Langner.

It’s Saturday.  That means it’s time for the answer to Wednesday’s “Just For Fun Avian ID Quiz #10”.

The quiz name should have been “Coolest Quiz Yet”.  It has the most startling information I’ve encountered about birds!  A large hint was the instruction taking a deep breath.  And so the answer is bird respiration.

The average person might think this is not interesting but it is very interesting!  Here are three quick bits of information that might help explain why:

  1. A full cycle of air flow requires two breaths.  Who knew?
  2. Fresh air in birds move through the lungs in one direction only.  It’s not “in and out” like us.  How can this be?
  3. There are actually two respiration systems, internal and external.  No way!

Now that you’re totally confused…here’s a layperson’s overview of bird respiration:

Inhale #1: fresh air enters through ares (nostrils), flows through the trachea and ends up in things called posterior air sacs, which hold the air.

Exhale #1: fresh air from these air sacs flow through the lungs and capillaries, where most of the oxygen exchange occurs.

Inhale #2: stale air enters a different set of air sacs (cranial air sacs).

Exhale #2: stale air exits the cranial air sacs, goes back out through the trachea and nostrils.

COOL!  Some things you might notice:

  1. There is very little stale air in the lungs.  Whereas in mammals, fresh air is mixed with stale air on each breath.
  2. Birds don’t have diaphragms.
  3. The lungs don’t change size.
  4. The air sacs act as bellows, causing the air to move through the entire system.

Disclaimer: I am not a biologist or an ornithologist.  And so my descriptions and my research are from the perspective of a layperson.  For those of you more in the know, I welcome your more professional and more accurate posts on this!

Stay tuned for the next quiz, if Corey, Mike and Charlie will still let me. [ed. note: of course we will!]

Information for this quiz come from various including:

Written by Jory
Jory's first field guide-identified bird was a Northern Cardinal. This turned out to be his gateway drug into birding. In 2007 Jory became the least accomplished birder to see 300 birds in New York State in one year. He has birded the world over but maintains his birding "beginner mind", of which he is inordinately proud. Just ask him. Jory is the 10,000 Birds Avian Quizmaster, coming up with ever more diabolical ways to stump his legion of devoted fans. He lives with his wife and the possessions of his children just outside of Albany NY.