Monday, December 6, 2010

Bird Nostrils

Have you ever wondered why bird nostrils are not at the tips of their beaks?  The answer may lie in the photograph of the Red Knot (above)  This sandpiper is able to breathe even when the bill tip is probing under the wet sand.  I took this photo last January along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

On the other hand, basal nostrils were no help for the Dunlin below.  Usually Dunlin feed in much more shallow water.  Judging by the bubbles by its head, the bird was exhaling at the time! (I suppose the bubbles may be air escaping from the bottom mud being probed by the bird.) The photo was taken several years ago at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Aberdeen, South Dakota.

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