The University of Massachusetts Amherst

In Pictures

Humidity: How It's Taking a Toll on Migrating Birds

Pictured above is a Swainson’s thrush in flight. UMass Amherst ornithology researchers compared the short-term effects of resting vs. long duration flight on the rate of lean body mass loss in birds. Using a field-portable quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (QMRI) machine for body composition analysis, they assessed the rate of body fat and muscle mass loss in groups of flying birds compared to birds at rest in low- and higher humidity conditions. They found that the total quantity and rate of protein loss was not different at rest or in flight, but both were affected by environmental conditions, specifically ambient humidity.  Learn More.