About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Do birds snore? Watch the video

Does any one else have a cat that snores? There are three cats that take turns as Greeter at the Wild Birds Unlimited in East Lansing. When one is on duty the other two find a safe place to “saw wood”. That got me wondering if birds snore?

Most birds are very light sleepers. Some birds even sleep with only half a brain and one eye open, always on the lookout for danger. Hummingbirds, however, can enter into a state of deep sleep called torpor to save energy. Torpor, similar to a type of short-term hibernation, reduces a hummingbirds’ metabolic activity and drops their heart rate from 1,200 beats per minute to 50 beats per minute.

Below is a video of a female Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis) in the early stages of waking up from torpor. The gaping of the bill might be a way to breathe deeply and bring in plenty of oxygen.

When they are disturbed in torpor, they try to warm up as quickly as possible. Initially, they are too cold for high-speed muscle action so they make shivering movements. The high pitched squeaking sound is likely a cute side-effect of the gaping for oxygen.

This recording was made by experts in tropical ornithology who placed the bird in a container that is attached to machines that measure how much oxygen the bird is consuming. The camera picked up the hum of the machines as well as the hummingbird.

All of the hummingbirds measured like this consumed much lower amounts of oxygen at a very stable level compared to other, larger birds, which suggests that they were in torpor, or a state close to torpor. Once the experiment was completed all the birds were released.

To watch the video on YouTube go to: http://youtu.be/pj5huCuhD_Q

Related Articles:
- Migration vs. Hibernation http://goo.gl/C1GtY 
- How Do Birds Sleep? http://goo.gl/EyGqT 
- Why geese sleep in the water http://goo.gl/GP784 
- Where Do Birds Go At Night? http://goo.gl/Aurhv

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