Re: Heat, bushlarks and crests

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Re: Heat, bushlarks and crests
From: "Val Curtis" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2006 21:29:26 +1100
Is this why the Ostrich is said to 'bury it's head in the sand'? I have often wondered where that saying originated. Is there any evidence of Ostriches (or Emus) burying their heads during extreme heat. Or do they do it during sand storms? Just wondering.

Val Curtis

Stephen Ambrose said:

"Phillip Veerman is also correct in saying that some arid-zone bird species have short feathers or bare skin to increase convective heat loss. The most notable of these species in Australia is the Emu which has very short feathers and well-vascularised skin on the head and neck (known physiologically as heat or thermal window). In addition, it is important to recognise that the most important part of the body to keep cool is the brain. The Emu is the bird species with the smallest brain relative to body size, its brain has a high surface-area to volume ratio and so it is adapted to losing more convective heat than a bird with a relatively smaller brain size. Interestingly, if emus are near a water source on a hot day they will splash water over their head and neck, which would result in evaporative cooling."


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