How do birds cool down?

      Drawn from a recent trip birding at a nearby lake, I have a scientific post for today. The topic: how birds cool down. I will start off by simply stating that birds do not sweat. So just how do they cool down? Take a close look at the screen shot posted below of one of the Decorah eagles, and see if you can guess the answer:

   Need a hint?Take a look at your dog (or your neighbor's) on any hot day- the answer lies therein. The fact of the matter is that birds pant to cool down, just like your favorite pooch. I while I was at the lake birding, I was walking past a large flok of ring-billed gulls (complete with two Caspian terns thrown into the mix), and noticed that many of them were sitting with there beaks opened, and their tongues raised. I wondered about this for a moment or two, when I suddenly felt how hot the sun was on my back, and the answer to my question immediately followed: I remembered learning that birds pant to cool down, but had never actuall seen one do so before.

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A panting Canada goose...

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And some panting ring-billed gulls with a panting Caspian tern.

   True, this was the first that I had ever seen a bird pant in real-life, but that day nearly all of the birds were panting, as you can tell from my photos above. So in case you have ever wondered, that is how birds cool down.

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