why birds open their mouth


In backyard chickens, open mouth breathing is a common symptom with a variety of potential causes. As soon as symptoms appear, consult a veterinarian because most chickens can be healed provided a diagnosis and treatment are started before more issues arise. If a viral infection is the cause of the open mouth breathing, treatment may not be effective if it is delayed. Possible causes of open mouth breathing include:

  • Backyard contamination with mould, bacteria or poisonous items.
  • Crop & gizzard impactions.
  • Virus infections such as Laryngotracheitis (ILT), Infectious Bronchitis (IB).
  • Other causes.

One of the few extremely hot days we’ve had this summer, I was asked by a woman how birds stay cool in such weather. They have a number of methods of beating the heat.

Still, we do have a significant advantage over birds because we can perspire. Since birds lack sweat glands, they must pant in order to release excess heat, just like dogs do. In the hottest part of the day, a bird’s mouth is most likely open when you see it. Their throat is moving up and down, removing heat from their body through the open bill, which you may or may not be able to see.

Birds are smart. They usually complete all of their labor in the early morning or after the sun has set in the evening to avoid working in the heat, especially on extremely hot days. That is why birders tend to be early morning people.

This loon was photographed from my boat in June 2016 during exceptionally hot weather using a long telephoto lens. The bird was not at all alarmed or concerned about my presence at the time because I was quite a distance away from it. The nest was completely exposed to the intense heat and provided no shade at all. This expectant parent’s only options were to pant, remain silent, and hope that its mate would soon return to free it from temporary incubation duties!

Birds do not feel the heat as intensely as humans do because their body temperature—which is approximately 40 degrees Celsius—is substantially higher than that of most other animals. Additionally, they breathe quickly, which allows them to release heat while maintaining a regular breathing pattern.

Backyard Contamination

When hens are engaged in their regular foraging activities, the most frequent cause of open mouth breathing is the ingestion or inhalation of contaminated objects. Chickens use their feet to scratch and scatter dirt and plant matter in their natural foraging behavior to find food. During their routine daily activities, they might consume or breathe in contaminated materials. The contamination may be infectious (e. g. bacteria or mould infection), poisonous (e. g. corrosive (chemicals, molds, etc.) or fungal or bacterial toxins, heavy metal toxins found in screws, nails, wire fragments, or chemical poisons ). All kinds of vegetation and soil have the potential to be harmful to chickens, but the things that pose the greatest risk are garden fertilizers, potting mix, bark or leaf litter, composting hay, and compost heaps. The hazards from these contaminated materials appear seasonally. Wet warm weather increases the likelihood of contamination. Summer and fall are prime times for problems with potentially dangerous backyard materials because the warm, humid weather fosters the growth of bacteria and mold in vegetation. Egg-laying hens may develop a craving for minerals during cold spells in winter due to dietary deficits. When these hens search for minerals in the dirt, they frequently swallow contaminated material. Egg-laying issues (such as vent gleet, egg peritonitis, egg binding, etc.) and abnormalities of the egg shell (such as soft, roughened, or discolored egg shells) are frequently linked to the consumption of food contaminated with fungi and mold. Open mouth breathing is frequently observed in cases of egg bonding issues and egg peritonitis. A common cause of moist cough and open mouth breathing is Staphylococcus infections. Most frequently, this kind of infection is caused by sawdust, sand, and composting hay that has been contaminated. Throat swab cultures and specialized staining methods make this condition easily diagnosable. Other soil type bacterial and yeast infections (Bacillus, Candida, E. open mouth breathing due to a throat infection (e.g., E. Coli). Open mouth breathing is frequently caused by two conditions: infectious coryza and chronic respiratory disease (see the “CRD” article in this section of the website). Aspergillosis infections also cause open mouth and laboured breathing. When contaminated straw or composting hays are used as bedding material, these infections develop. Mouldy food scraps may also cause Aspergillosis and Aflatoxicosis. Certain molds cause mouth and throat ulcers, which frequently result in symptoms like gaping and open mouth breathing. Breathing through your mouth can be caused by heavy metal poisoning, crop impaction, and blocked gizzards. These conditions are quickly diagnosed using X-rays.


Why does a bird keep opening its mouth?

Birds have no sweat glands, so the primary way of dissipating excessive heat is by panting, just like a dog. If you see a bird during the hottest part of the day, it will likely have its mouth open. You may or not see that their throat is moving up and down, ridding heat from their body through the open bill.

Do birds open their mouths when scared?

A number of species of bird use a gaping, open beak in their fear and threat displays.

Why do birds sit with their beaks open?

Unlike humans and other mammals, birds do not have sweat glands, which offer the simplest way of cooling caused by evaporation. By keeping their beaks open during high summer, birds let the hot air outside sweep over the wet mucus membranes of the mouth and throat and, thereby, experience evaporative cooling.

What does it mean when a bird breathes with its mouth open?

Restriction of airflow in the trachea with pus, mucus, or foreign material can cause open-mouth breathing. Birds with infections in the lungs or air sacs may have difficulty breathing. an up-and-down bob of its tail with each breath.”