Mews News: Staying Warm in Winter
As humans with modern amenities, we’re very good at keeping warm. If it’s too cold throw on some more layers, wrap up in a blanket, or give in and turn the thermostat up. But for our feathered friends, how do they keep warm outside in the snow?
First, a bird may tuck a foot up against its body or rest its body on its feet to cover the feet with warm feathers. Some species of cold weather birds have feathered feet as well! In addition, a neat biological feature called the countercurrent flow allows the hot blood leaving the core of the body to warm up the cold blood returning from the feet. This prevents the cold blood from lowering the core body temperature too much.
By eating plenty of high energy foods, birds can also pack on a layer of insulating fat. Many birds that are fond of seeds and nuts spend a great deal of time storing them away either in small buried caches or in the grand granaries of the Acorn Woodpecker. Suet, or beef fat, is another popular and tasty source of energy that you can provide to you neighborhood birds. You’ll see how quickly a flock of birds will devour it as a cake of pure fat or laced with seeds.
Birds can also find a warmer place to rest at night. Tree holes, bird houses, nooks and crannies can all present opportunities to get out of the wind and rain. Birds may also enter buildings via front doors and chimneys.
So, take a look outside and see what birds are spending winter with you, and remember to always Keep Your Eyes on the Skies!