"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

Monday, July 23, 2018

Help birds beat the heat

A mourning dove visits a fountain in Mission Viejo. Photo by J.J. Meyer

             Southern California is heading into another heat wave with temperatures expected to be in the 90s for most of the week. People can crank up the air conditioner, but how do birds beat the heat?
              Birds have several physiological and behavioral adaptations to help them maintain a constant body temperature of 105 to 107 degrees. Scientists refer to this mechanism as thermoregulation.
Without sweat glands, birds can’t perspire like humans, nor do they pant like dogs. Instead, birds open their bills to expose their mucous membranes to the air, which sends cooler air into their air sacs. They also flutter their throats in a form of avian panting called “gular fluttering.” 
It’s also common to see birds sitting with open wings, which circulates air next to their bodies.  Some species are known to spread their wings to shade their nestlings from the sun. Female hummingbirds will beat their wings over their nests to cool their eggs or hatchlings. 
Birds sleek down their feathers to avoid trapping air next to their skin when the environment is too warm. And like many other species, birds become less active in the heat, retreating to the shade where they can hide and cool off. 
Help our fine feathered friends by keeping your birdbath filled with clean water. 
Happy birding!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for helping the cheep cheeps. I don't have a bird bath but I'll take cold water with ice cubes and pour it at the end of our driveway where puddles form (and where I've seen them bath before). They seem to appreciate it. I feel so bad that their beakster have been open in this heatwave despite regularly doing this for them... but hopefully they all can enjoy it. I had a cardinal, gold finch, house sparrow and a few more birds all bathing together one time after I had done an ice water reload (been doing it least five times today).