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Volume 630 Issue 8017, 20 June 2024

Soar point

Birds of prey, such as the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) pictured on the cover, spend much of their time in the air soaring. In this week’s issue, Emma Schachner and colleagues reveal a link between the wings and respiratory system that helps these birds maintain this mode of flying. The researchers focused on the subpectoral diverticulum (SPD), an extension of the respiratory system that dives between the main muscles responsible for wing flapping and forms air sacs on the chest beneath the wings. The team found that the SPD is present in most soaring birds but is absent in other species. Soaring birds can inflate the SPD air sacs at will and the sacs reduce the energy required to keep the wings outstretched when gliding.

Cover image: Raymond Gilbert

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  • Changing climate patterns have caused a monumental shift in the world’s agricultural processes.

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