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Birds have hollow bones

In the spring and fall, the vast majority of birds take to the air.

In the spring, they head north to their breeding grounds, and in the fall, they head south to overwintering areas that are warmer and have ample food supplies.

Migration can be a long and hard journey, and the bigger the bird, the harder it seems the journey would be as the bird has to keep its heavy body flying such a distance.

However, birds have a unique bone structure that makes flying and the rigors of migration easier for them — hollow bones!

A human bone is dense and filled with bone marrow. However, a bird bone is hollow and filled with air. It also has some cross-sections of bone, called struts, that make the bone strong and help birds withstand taking off, flying and landing.

 

Diagram with interior of bird bone

Interior of bird bone, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S136970211730072X#fig0025

One would think that having hollow bones would make a bird’s skeleton lighter than a mammal’s, but research has shown that a bird’s skeleton actually weighs about the same as that of a mammal. However, the hollow, dense bone is actually stiffer and stronger than a mammal’s, making it hold up to the pressure and rigors of flight.

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