In the most sweltering summer or heat wave, birds may worry about how they will stay cool. However, wild birds are well suited to hot climates, and they have physical and behavioral characteristics that can help them overcome the heat.
The body of birds naturally has more heat than many other creatures. Although the optimal temperature varies from species to species, the average bird’s body temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). In addition, the high metabolic rate of birds and an active lifestyle produce more body heat that must be controlled if birds remain healthy and cool.
How birds stay cool
On hot days, birds have several ways to regulate their body temperature to prevent overheating. Physically, birds have evolved to accommodate different temperature ranges, and their behavior can help them stay cool.
Although birds do not have sweat glands, physical features that help birds stay cool in hot climates include:
- Breathing rate: Birds have a fast breathing rate that allows more cooling by regular breathing, even if they don’t gasp or open their bills.
- Bare skinExposed skin patches on the legs, feet and face, which have a greater heat loss when covered with feathers than each area. Even small patches, such as fleshy eyes, help dissipate heat. Some birds can even expand these patches to increase the surface area if they are hotter and need to cool faster.
- Bill size: Some tropical birds, especially Tucan birds, have large bills and a rich blood supply. On hot days, birds can increase blood flow to them to help release heat. When the temperature cools, the blood flow slows down and the heat remains in the body.
How any animal’s behavior affects its body heat, birds have developed several behaviors that can help them stay cool in hot weather, for example:
- PantingLike a dog, wild birds open bills and gasp on hot days to help cool. As the weather gets hotter, their respite may accelerate, or they may open the bill further to expand the cooling.
- Activity level: Birds adjust their daily activities to the climate. On very hot days or warm climates, birds are less active during the hottest times, and when the sun is lower and the air cools, they are more active.
- Looking for shadows: During the hottest days of the year, more birds can be found in cloudy areas, especially near water sources and as low as ground. The more branches and leaves on the ground, the more heat they absorb and the colder the shadows.
- Soaring: On the hottest days, raptors often fly at high altitudes. While this does not keep them out of the sun, the air temperature is much colder at high altitudes, so the birds stay cool.
- Bath: Many backyard bird and songbird species will bathe in hot weather and cool their bodies with water. They may just pass through the water, or shake it in their bodies with their heads twisted and wings fluttering. Waterfowl often dive under the water and thoroughly moisten at high temperatures.
- Spreading feathers: When the cool breeze provides some relief of heat, birds may blow out their feathers or flutter their wings so that the circulating air reaches their hot skin. They may also pull their wings away from their bodies to lower their body temperature.
- UrususiSome birds, especially vultures, urinate with bare legs to cool by evaporation. White residues in urine and feces also help to reflect more sunlight and make them cooler.
- Less solar radiation: On hot days, lighter birds may move the lightest part of the sun, so more heat is reflected outside the body.
- Breeding range: Many birds migrate relative to their preferred climate, and when the weather warms, they look for cooler places at the northern latitudes. Similarly, mountain birds may fly to higher, cooler heights, while lowland birds retreat to deeper, secluded areas.
Help wild birds stay cool
While wild birds have many ways to stay cool, even on the hottest days, serious birds can easily help their backyard flocks avoid heat.
- Use a bird bath: Provides a bird bath filled with clean fresh water for birds to drink and bathe. The basin should not be more than 1 to 2 inches deep to easily accommodate small bathing birds. On the hottest day, this water may evaporate quickly, so check regularly to keep it filled, or take steps to keep the basin filled, even if not monitored.
- Consider Mr. and the dropper: Moving water with audible splashes and visible sparks will be available as a billboard through birds, refreshing drinks or bathtubs. Some birds, such as hummingbirds, prefer fish or drippers to deeper bird baths, and providing a variety of water sources will ensure that all birds stay cool.
- Create a landscape: Plant native trees and shrubs on several levels to provide rich, deep shade and shade. Make your bird-friendly landscape do a double responsibility, and also choose plants that will provide natural food sources for backyard birds. Avoid pruning trees and shrubs during the summer when birds need a cool shelter most.
- Shadow accessories: If you have a bird bath and bird feeder in the backyard, try to keep each bird bath in the sun-proof midday sun. Even if it makes accessories less visible from the air, birds will soon find them and will have more frequency during the hottest season. This will also help keep food fresh and water free of bacteria or algae growth.
- Airy Birdhouse: Every birdhouse in your yard needs to have enough vents under the house or on the top of the wall so that cold air can circulate within the structure. The baby’s temperature regulation is poor, and the chicks can easily suffocate in an overheated house. Painting the light colors of the Bird House also helps to reflect heat and keep cool.
- Provide good food: Provide sinful food sources for birds through clean, well-stocked feeders that do not need to overheat in the hot summer months in search of food. Choose seeds that don’t deteriorate quickly and try to avoid sutes and other fatty bird foods that deteriorate quickly during the summer heat. Clean the feeder regularly to keep it in good condition and provide nectar rich in nectar, berry shrubs for birds and other familiar, naturally updated food sources.
Birds have many ways to stay cool even on the hottest days. Learn how birds regulate the temperature of birds can be found more easily in the wild and provide a more suitable backyard habitat to attract them throughout the summer.