About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Remarkable complexity of the bird nose

Birds' beaks come in an incredible range of shapes and sizes, adapted for survival in environments around the world. A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances reveals, that the insides of birds' bills are filled with complex structures that help them meet the demands of different climates.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Raymond Danner of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and his colleagues from Cornell University and the National Museum of Natural History used CT scans to examine the conchae of birds.

“I remember the entire team assembled for the first time, huddled around a computer and looking in amazement at the first scans. The high resolution scans revealed many structures that we as experienced ornithologists had never seen or even imagined, and we were immediately struck by the beauty of the ornately structured anterior conchae and the neatly scrolled middle conchae,” said Danner.

“This study highlights the remarkable complexity of the rostral conchae in songbirds,” according to Jason Bourke, a researcher from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences who was not involved in the research. “Thanks to the use of innovative techniques like diceCT, we are now able to really appreciate just how complicated bird noses can be.”

Raymond M. Danner, Eric R. Gulson-Castillo, Helen F. James, Sarah A. Dzielski, David C. Frank III, Eric T. Sibbald, and David W. Winkler (2016) Habitat-specific divergence of air conditioning structures in bird bills. The Auk, 134 (1): 65-75.

Researcher contact:
Raymond Danner, dannerr@uncw.edu, (910)-962-7895

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