Average Weight For A 6 Foot 1 15 Year Old How Wild Birds Stay Warm in the Winter and You Can Help

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How Wild Birds Stay Warm in the Winter and You Can Help

Winter presents many challenges for birds, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. We don’t often think or wonder how birds survive the cold nights, but we know they do or at least hope they can. Even those times in the South, in the Desert region or on the Pacific coast where there is a cold snowfall of several inches or feet, can affect the number of birds. Winter brings very cold temperatures, strong winds, snow and rain.

The night seems to last forever. 16 hours dark and in some places. It doesn’t leave much time for eating and drinking. However, many birds must at least triple their normal intake to survive and do so in half the time. Every winter we lose many of our furry friends to the harshness of winter. This is how “Nature” works. Survival of the fittest, Passing on the strongest genes.

Birds have many adaptations to survive the end of winter. Some birds migrate, some adjust their diet. Birds such as chickadees and American goldfinch add feathers in preparation for winter. The common chickadee or goldfinch is covered with about 1000 feathers during the summer. When winter comes, that number doubles to over 2,000 hairs. For small birds, this can be a large portion and weight.

In cold, windy weather or just plain bad weather, birds will shed their feathers. In doing so, they create dead air pockets, like insulation or double pain windows. This reduces heat loss by up to 30%. It’s not just the extra feathers and the florals to get through the cold winter days but the cold, dark nights.

Birds also have a unique cooling system in their feet to help them cope with cold temperatures.

Pay attention now.

The warm blood from the inside of the bird, which travels to the bird’s legs and feet, passes through a network of small passages that travel with the cold return blood from on the feet. The blood vessels act as radiators and exchange heat from the warm arterial blood flowing out to the cold venous blood. By heating the old blood, no heat is lost and the feet get a constant supply of life-giving blood. This is also why birds swim in cold water and do not freeze.

Fat is another important factor in adapting to winter weather. Fat acts as an insulator in addition to storing energy. During the day, the bird eats to accumulate fat. On average, a bird can put on 15% to 20% of its body weight before it becomes too heavy to fly.

Now remember, the days are short and cold. Birds must eat enough to survive the day and replenish their fat reserves. The smaller the bird, the higher the metabolism (more energy burned). Birds don’t have brown fat, like we do, but they do have white fat. White fat is a powerful fuel used to fuel the bird’s heat cycle.

trembling

Thermogenesis is a popular name for shivering. You can’t really see it, but all birds shiver in the cold winter. From the largest of birds such as eagles and waterfowl to the smallest of birds such as hummingbirds. They all shiver to keep their body temperature at about 106 to 109 degrees, depending on the species.

Shivering produces heat at five times the normal basal rate and can maintain normal heat for six to eight hours in temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Without shivering, the bird’s body temperature will drop rapidly and hypothermia will occur.

At night, birds like the little chickadee tremble, or fail to take a step. To conserve heat and energy, chickadees can lower their body temperature by stopping shivering. These periods of inactivity allow the bird’s body temperature to gradually decrease, until it reaches about 10 or 12 degrees. At this point, the bird enters a state of unconsciousness called torpor. Breathing and heart rate will also slow down during this time.

Invigorating

As dawn approaches, the idle time decreases until the bird is quivering. Body temperature returns to normal and the bird regains consciousness. The result of this torpid state is energy savings of up to 20% during a typical winter night.

Energy conservation is very important when you consider how little fat a bird can store. Based on the daily fat gain of 15%, the average chickadee has enough fat or 24 hours to carry it through the winter night. This is why it is important to have birds that come out early in the morning and stay late to look for food regardless of the weather.

If it does not replenish its fat daily, the bird will not have enough energy to make it through the next night and will die. There was a time when the natural world provided food for most animals. With the continuous decline of habitat, winter protection and food are decreasing.

You can increase the chances of birds and some mammals by supplementing your food with their favorite foods and offering suet. Clean water is also important. When birds have to eat frozen snow, they need valuable energy to warm that snow as they pass by.

The next time you’re out in the cold or the heat to fill your food, just think, “Nature” has provided birds with wonderful tools for survival, whether it’s migration, blood transfusion, changes in food, hair loss, or shivering.

Birds are so amazing to us. On the other hand, it is sad that many birds need our help to survive. However, look at the education and enjoyment that comes from caring for and feeding the birds.

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