Eagle by Haley Maten
The Bald Eagle is epitomized as the United States of America's national animal. Symbolizing freedom and justice, this elegant bird flies at soaring altitudes of 10,000 feet above ground (4). These great heights require an equally great respiratory system.
Bird Respiration Diagram
- Utilize a lung and air sac system (1)
- Air Sac: air filled cavity in the lungs and bones (4)
- Naris on both sides of beak allow air to into air sacs through the trachea (3)
- Air comes in and leaves due to pressure gradient through a series of steps (2).
3.) rib cage contracts, reducing the volume of the posterior and anterior air sacs
4.) simultaneously air moves from posterior sac into lungs and from the anterior sac into the
trachea and out of the body
- Air is cycled twice through the lungs (twice that of humans) to ensure lungs are always inflated (3)
- Tubules in the lungs are connected to capillaries which bring re-oxygenated blood back to the heart (3)
- Breath to heartbeat ratio is low due to the extraordinary efficiency of their respiratory system, ~1 breath/6-10 heartbeats (3)
- Eagle's respiratory system also plays a role in thermoregulation (regulation of normal body temperature) (2)
When the eagle population was in danger of severely low numbers, many states took initiative to revitalize the iconic bird. Pennsylvanians, who haven't had a nesting eagle in around 200 years, have finally been able to watch the hatching of baby eagles online. On March 28, 2014 the little eaglets started to peck their way out of their eggs. It's interesting to note how the young eaglets breathe inside their eggs before they hatch. Their eggs are also equipped with an air sac to hold oxygen, that develops shortly after the egg is laid. This allows for storage of oxygen and CO2. The CO2 later escapes through tiny pores in the shell (4).
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Did You Know?
Eagles tend to make nests, called eyries, in trees close to bodies of water, which they continue to use and build upon year after year. It is not rare for theses eyries to end up weighing more than 1 ton (2,000 pounds)! They build the biggest nest out of any North American bird (1).