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Most species of birds have external nares (nostrils) located somewhere on their beak. The nares are two holes—circular, oval or slit-like in shape—which lead to the nasal cavities within the bird's skull, and thus to the rest of the respiratory system. [51] In most bird species, the nares are located in the basal third of the upper mandible. Kiwis are a notable exception; their nares are located at the tip of their bills. A handful of species have no external nares. Cormorants and darters have primitive external nares as nestlings, but these close soon after the birds fledge; adults of these species (and gannets and boobies of all ages, which also lack external nostrils) breathe through their mouths. There is typically a septum made of bone or cartilage that separates the two nares, but in some families (including gulls, cranes and New World vultures), the septum is missing. While the nares are uncovered in most species, they are covered with feathers in a few groups of birds, including grouse and ptarmigans, crows, and some woodpeckers. [51] The feathers over a ptarmigan's nostrils help to warm the air it inhales,[52] while those over a woodpecker's nares help to keep wood particles from clogging its nasal passages. [53]

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