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Gardening For Wildlife, #20 Dealing with the hot weather
June 18, 2007
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 arrives this week on Thursday.
Of course, the heat and no rain says summer arrived well before the 21st.
Can someone please share a rainstorm or two?
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
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.
Just like kids,
But oh the water bill.
There isn't anything new or exciting this past week.
Keet is still the same little girl that likes to terrorize the cats and bother me to play when I'm on here.
That's a fur kid for you.
Karen manages to find little things for me to do.
Yolanda sits most of the time with her legs propped up and her braces on. She is on this program through July and maybe longer.
She is a pro at word search though.
For newer readers, Yolanda is our daughter that is brain injured from an auto accident years ago.
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.
Yes, one day I will get a mug shot of myself and post it so you will finally see the face behind the key board.
Birds are the favorites in our wildlife gardens, but gardening for wildlife is more than birds.
You can't help attract other creatures when you garden for birds.
Butterflies, salamanders, toads, and all sorts of insects find their way and call your yard home.
Insects are an important part of many birds diets.
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.
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.
How do birds manage in the heat of summer?
First of all, I will make pound the point home on the importance of fresh water for hydration and a cooling off.
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 than we can.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As soon as one bunch fledges, another nest is being constructed.
On Saturday at the nursery I work at, I watched a mama robin brooding her babies.
Or at least keeping them comfortable.
The nest is on a wooden rack that is partial sun and shade (we get lots of birds in several odd places).
Her brooding technique consisted of standing on the rim of her nest and her left wing extended over to keep the blazing sun off her tender young.
She was keeping herself and her young cool.
You have to admire the gifts God gives our feathered friends.
Well, it's time to fly for now.
Be sure to smile.
Smiles are free and contagious so make your smile your best.
Until next time my friend.
"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
Your friend indeed,
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