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Bird Part

Red or White?

1. Barn Swallow breast muscles Mostly red. A Barn Swallow may fly over 600 miles a day just feeding on bugs. Its muscles must work steadily for a long time!
2. Crane wing muscles These are a combination of red and white. Cranes don't fly a lot every day, so it would be a waste of energy to have mostly red muscles. When they do fly, they can soar on thermals, resting their wings instead of flapping.
3. Crane leg muscles Mostly red. Cranes spend most of their day walking, and cannot get too tired.
4. Hummingbird wing muscles These are made up of 100% red muscle fibers!
5. Eagle wing muscles Eagles fly more often than cranes, and flap while fishing, so their wings need more red muscle fibers than cranes ( but not nearly as many as hummers).
6. Eagle leg muscles A combination of red and white. Eagles use their legs for powerful strikes, but don't need to have too many red muscles since they don't use their leg muscles except when fishing.
7. Red-winged Blackbird wing muscles Mostly red. When red-wings are migrating, they flap the whole way. Just flying between their nesting territory and feeding areas requires a lot of steady flapping.
8. Loon wing muscles Combination of red and white, mostly red. Loons rest their wings most of the time, but when they do fly, they must beat their wings steadily for long periods.
9. Loon leg muscles Loons swim all day with a lot of steady paddling, so their leg muscle fibers are mostly red.
10. Robin wing muscles Mostly red. Robins do a lot of flying every day, and during migration must flap steadily for long distances.
11. Robin leg muscles Mostly red. Robins feed by hopping and running on lawns, so they use their leg muscles fairly steadily.

Why didn't we ask about hummingbird or swallow leg muscles? Because they're so tiny! Hummingbirds simply cannot walk at all, and swallows hardly ever walk, so their leg muscles never get a workout!

 

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