I always thought that this "erratic" flight in cockatoos, especially when
landing, is because they are "spilling" air from beneath the wings, thereby
giving them far greater manoevreability (spelling? Spell-checker doesn't
have this one!) and accuracy.
> From: Philip A Veerman[SMTP:
> Sent: Monday, 3 May 1999 23:28
> To: ; John Leonard
> Subject: birding-aus Re: bird lungs and cockatoo flapping flight
> Yes John and others. Birds' breathing is quite different to mammals' but
> John Leonard had a sort of idea that it was different but had it the wrong
> way around. The following is a very simplified description. Any decent
> biology textbook will fill in the details. Birds breathe into a system of
> air sacs in which inspired air passes directly to the rear of their body,
> not into the lungs. Then the air flows ONE WAY out through the lungs
> a selection of air sacs. So there is no wasted space in the lungs of a
> unlike the situation in mammals, which have a lung like a one way sack.
> flows better through an open tube than a sac with one opening. (Of course
> there is very complex internal structure as well). A mammal can perform
> artificial respiration because relatively little of the air breathed in is
> used. A bird's lung has continuous fresh air flowing through it, rather
> the bellows pump part stale air pushed in and out of our lungs. So a
> lung is much more efficient and uses more of the inspired oxygen because
> there is no "dead space" in their lung. Obviously that is an advantage for
> high energy activity like flight, especially at high altitudes. You don't
> see birds practising CPR, for good reasons. Unlike us, they don't have
> enough oxygen remaining in the air they breathe out for it to do any good.
> As for cockatoos flying, off the top of my head, I doubt that was
> about co-ordinating wing beats and breathing has anything to do with it.
> Birds breathe much faster than we do and cockatoos flap rather slowly. I'd
> be surprised if there was any relationship. Besides we breathe using our
> cage and diaphragm which may effect other muscle activity, birds breathe
> quite differently.
> It always impresses me that the white cockatoo group have two gears they
> in flapping flight and their switch from one to another flapping style is
> quite noticeable. It seems to have a social function. The quick flap
> is often performed in conjunction with tilting from side to side and quick
> changes in direction and this seems to be an excitement action from these
> birds. This flight is often performed with a lot of calling. I think the
> pattern is similar among galahs, corellas and Sulphur-crested, I can't
> remember it in Pinks.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Leonard <>
> To: <>
> Date: Monday, 3 May 1999 8:22
> Subject: birding-aus Cockatoo flying behaviour
> >I was about to reply to John Gamblin's comments about cockatoos' and
> >parrots' call in flight by remarkign that when humans run and are
> >deeply, any verbal communication has to be coordinated with the breaths.
> >then I remembered that birds have quite a different resperatory system
> >(isn't it the air goes into the lungs and them is circulated via air-sacs
> >the bones? can someone give a concise description of this please?), so
> >point probably doesn't apply to birds. It's probabl;y the case with birds
> >that, like mammals at rest, they can make vocalisations whih are not
> >strictly cooridnated with the inspiration and expiration- like a set of
> >bagpipes, they have a good reserve of air!
> >John Leonard (Dr),
> >PO Box 243,
> >Woden, ACT 2606,
> >'Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to
> >take that which was now given to them.'
> >Thucydides III 82
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