Bird Beaks Are Cooler Than You Think — Literally

The image reveals the conchae inside the nasal cavity of a song sparrow, taken from a 3D reconstruction built on enhanced-contrast micro-CT scans. Credit: Eric Gulson and Mary Margaret Ferraro

The image reveals the conchae inside the nasal cavity of a song sparrow, taken from a 3D reconstruction built on enhanced-contrast micro-CT scans. Credit: Eric Gulson and Mary Margaret Ferraro

Whether stubby, slender, spoon-shaped, flattened or sharply pointed, bird beaks can be highly specialized, and now, researchers have found that some even have built-in AC.

For the first time, scientists were able to image tiny structures inside nasal cavities in song sparrow beaks. These structures function like air conditioning units, cooling airflow during breathing and helping to reclaim moisture in dry habitats.

Previous studies have examined the role that beaks’ sizes and shapes play in regulating birds’ body temperatures, and how certain bill types are linked to particular climates. But far less was known about how beaks’ internal structures were involved

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