Monday, January 8, 2018

Feather, Puff and Huddle


It always amazes me when I hear chickadees flitting around, and crows on the prowl in the bitterest of Maine winter days.  How do they stay warm when temps plummet to 20-30 degrees F below zero for five days in a row? Feather, puff and huddle.

Feathers! Their first layer of defense against the cold is feathers, and the oil that coats feathers also provides waterproofing.

They also puff. Their body heat warms the air between feathers, so they fluff up in the cold to trap as much air in their feathers as possible. The more trapped air, the warmer the bird.

Birds have a counter-current heat exchange system in their legs. Veins and arteries in their legs are close to each other, and as warm blood leaves the body, it heats up the cold blood returning to the body. They also stand on one leg, while the other is tucked up warmly in its feathers. And then they switch.

Lots of species flock in to a ball at night too. They will gather in large groups and crowd together in a small tight space to share body heat. They may roost closely together in dense shrubbery or trees, or empty birdhouses and tree cavities.

We humans probably did the same thing once upon a time, huddle that is.

Feather, puff and Huddle • 8" x *' acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250

No comments:

Post a Comment