Back to Back Issues Page
How Do Birds Manage the Heat
June 22, 2020

Thank you all for the Fathers day wishes and thank you even more for some of the stories that were shared.

I truly feel blessed.

Summer officially arrived this past Saturday.

Of course, the heat and no rain says summer days before the then

You know it's hot when you see wild rabbits laying on their side, resting in the shade of a maple tree at 7:00 o'clock in the evening.

You will see a picture of a chipmunk and squirrel at the bottom.

I must say, the birds do enjoy the sprinklers.

I enjoys watching the cardinals, grosbeaks and other birds playing in the shrubs and trees as they allow the sprinkler to get them wet.

The frolicking in the wet foliage and other birds at ground level enjoying a refreshing drink and bath.

(This is called leafing.)

Spontaneous fun.

Just like kids.

But oh the water bill.

There isn't anything new or exciting this past week.

During this stay at home time, Karen manages to find little things for me to do.

Keeping Yolanda entertained, or busy is the real challenge.

Why do I write about us?

Simple, It gives you the reader an idea about me.

Where I come from and some of my back ground.

You understand that I am a real, everyday person with passions and desires.

A person much like you are.

We deal with everyday life, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I've made several new friends and hope to continue doing so.

I am honored when you write back with questions and sometimes your life's experience.

(Waiting her turn.)

For most of you, birds are the favorites in our wildlife gardens,

However, gardening for wildlife is more than birds.

You can't help attract other creatures when you garden for birds.

Butterflies, salamanders, toads, snakes, chipmunks and all sorts of insects find their way and call your yard home.

Insects are an important part of many diets, toads, birds, other insects, and so on.

Some birds are completely insectivores, or very close to it.

I will write about insects or biological gardening as well as birds, butterflies and what we plant.

Everything goes hand in hand.

Sure bugs may not be exciting, but they are a part of the food chain and life cycles.

Do you ever have those moments where you planned on doing one thing and ended doing another?

Well, that's what happened now.

I was going to write on something else, but the heat helped to change my mind.

These hot summer days can take a toll on people and animals.

Be sure to keep your pets comfortable and offer plenty of water for them, and your farm animals.

Keep yourself hydrated as well.

So how do birds manage in the heat of summer?

First of all, I will make the point home on the importance of fresh water for hydration and a cooling off.

(Panting Robin.)

Other than that, "Nature" has provided a couple of ways for birds to keep cool or at least remain comfortable.

A bird's body temperature is higher than ours (around 105 degrees F.), so they can remain more comfortable when the mercury rises.

However, birds do not perspire like we do.

They do however pant much like a dog will.

The rapids breaths in and out of their lungs and air sacks carry out excessive internal body heat.

(Cardinal Leafing.)

Most birds do not have feathers on their legs, and all birds have bare feet.

The legs and feet aren't exactly bare, they are covered with scales.

Yet, birds possess the ability to increase blood flow to these bald legs and feet.

The increased flow of blood to the outer extremities aids in cooling the bird, much like elephants increase blood flow through the big ears to help cool down.

Birds also decrease the flow of blood to the legs in the cold months to minimize the loss of precious heat.

I Digress.

The miracle of the feather also comes into play.

A bird's feather is truly a wonder.

Not only is it used in flight, but it works as an over coat, a rain coat and much more.

The down feathers work as an insulator (hummers lack down feathers).

Each feather is connected to a muscle..............

Each muscle can move that one feather.

Feathers are used in flight and as a jacket to keep warm or aid in cooling off.

Feathers can be fluffed to allow heat to escape and can be fluffed to create a dead air pocket to keep warmer air in cold weather.

Feathers can be directed to allow heat to escape much like we direct air vents.

All with a muscle.

Now that's body control.

That pile of dead branches and yard waste slowly shrinks, becoming part of earth once again.

The forest floor is covered with twigs, dead foliage, and decaying animals.

By summer the forest floor, is rich in nutrients, feeding all of the plant life and micro-organisms that thrive on it all.

The leaf litter and twigs you may leave in your wildlife gardens do much the same.

Not only does this litter provide mulch and nesting materials.

Insects and worms feed on the debris.

Birds and other insects feed, on insects and seeds.

Micro-organisms thrive, and your soil grows healthy and rich.

(Hummer Leafing.)

A bird my expand a single wing, or fluff a certain part of its body to control heat and body temperatures.

Another simple answer to stay cool is this........

Birds can lay low during the heat of the day.

Find a nice shade tree, prairie grass or whatever is handy.

Yet, this time of year most of our birds are busy.

Real busy raising families.

That adds up to several air miles logged every day just to keep hungry mouths fed.

Not to mention, find time for a quick bite and drink for themselves.

For many of our birds it is non stop.

For most bird species, as soon as one bunch fledges, another nest is being constructed.

You have to admire the gifts God gives our feathered friends.

In return, gives these gifts for us to enjoy.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

This is a longer read than normal, but well worth it.

Read it carefully.

As children of God, we need to boldly take claim to this.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most Highwill rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save youfrom the fowler’s snareand from the deadly pestilence.He will cover you with his feathers,and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness
will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night,nor the arrow that flies by day,nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,nor the plague that destroys at midday.A thousand may fall at your side,ten thousand at your right hand,but it will not come near you.You will only observe with your eyesand see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you,no disaster will come near your tent.For he will command his angels concerning youto guard you in all your ways;they will lift you up in their hands,so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.You will tread on the lion and the cobra;you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.He will call on me, and I will answer him;I will be with him in trouble,I will deliver him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy himand show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page