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Beuchat, C.A., M.R. Preest, and E.J. Braun. 1999. Glomerular and medullary architecture in the kidney of Anna's hummingbird. Journal of Morphology 240: 95-100. Full Article

Hummingbirds have rates of water turnover that are among the highest of any bird, consuming up to five times their body mass in nectar each day. To determine if the processing of these extraordinary volumes of water is associated with structural specializations in the kidney, we examined the renal morphology of Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) using scanning electron microscopy of vascular and tubular casts. The glomerular tufts are simple, containing a single, unbranched capillary that is spiraled or folded back on itself only one or two times. There is no evidence that nectarivory in this species is associated with a relative increase in the size of the glomeruli. The medullary cones are small, containing only a few loops of Henle and collecting ducts. The vasa recta form a complex network of branching and anastomosing capillaries. In this nectarivore, the structures necessary to produce urine that is hyperosmotic to plasma are poorly developed or absent, which is consistent with urine osmolalities that are uniformly low.

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