Acute respiratory distress is usually a life-threatening emergency, particularly in avian patients. In the emergency room, observation of the patient’s breathing pattern, respiratory sounds and a brief physical exam are the most important tools for diagnosis and treatment of respiratory distress. Anatomical and physiological understanding of the 5 different areas of the respiratory system will be discussed. These include the upper airway (upper respiratory tract and infraorbital sinus), large airway from the glottis to the syrinx, small airway, coelomic disease affecting the respiratory tree, and parenchyma. In this team-taught masterclass, an anatomist and emergency medicine clinician will help the practitioner understand the anatomy and physiology of these components. With this knowledge, the clinician will be better informed to identify differentials and perform the diagnostics and treatment protocols tailored for each area. Several cases will be included to highlight the information presented.