Q:

How do birds breathe?

A:

Quick Answer

While birds inhale oxygen and expel carbon dioxide through their mouth or nostrils just as mammals do, their respiratory systems are more complex than those of other animals. Birds feature organs called air sacs that connect to their lungs. These air sacs extend into some of the hollow bones of birds and increase the amount of gas inside their bodies at all times.

Know More
How do birds breathe?
Credit: Steve Jurvetson Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

One big difference between avian respiration and mammalian respiration is that birds do not use a diaphragm to pump air in and out of their lungs. Instead, birds use muscular contractions to move their rib cages, which pumps air through their bodies. Because of their elongated respiratory system, birds store the air in their bodies for two breathing cycles. When a bird inhales, the air it breathed in is not expelled the next time it exhales; instead, the air is expelled the second time the animal exhales as it takes a considerably longer amount of time to travel through the circuit.

The lungs of birds are relatively small, but when combined with the air sacs, the volume of the entire system is significant relative to their body size. In addition to respiration, birds use their respiratory systems to aid in thermoregulation.

Learn more about Birds

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do birds reproduce?

    A:

    Birds reproduce sexually by mating and then depositing shelled eggs, which they incubate, hatch and rear. Birds produce sperm and egg cells just as mammals do, but most male birds lack a copulatory organ. Instead, birds mate through a process known as a “cloacal kiss.”

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What eats birds?

    A:

    While birds have many predators, the most common predators of birds are other birds. Other consumers of birds include mammals like large cats, snakes, insects and plants.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why do birds migrate?

    A:

    Birds migrate to mate, search for food, escape harsh weather, evade predators and to flee from diseases. Birds also migrate to raise their young in a safe environment.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do birds live?

    A:

    Birds live by feeding off of both plants and animals from air, water or land. There are about 8,600 species of birds worldwide and approximately 100 billion birds overall.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore