Our Feathered Friends Surviving The Heat

Although we worry, our feathered friends do have ways to survive the heat wave that has engulfed the United States.  Most important is locating water.  Birds do not sweat, and extreme heat stresses their body temperature.  They must remove this excess body heat through their respiratory system.  You can see this when they can be seen panting like a dog.  This activity dehydrates birds and increases their need to replace lost fluids.  Birds must also be ready to fly at all times, and bathing is a critical part of feather maintenance and staying in top-flight condition.  Here’s an osprey I captured panting on a snag along Route 50.

Osprey ‘panting’ to cool off

Of course, we have plenty of water along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay where birds can drink and bathe to their heart’s content.  But there are critical inland areas throughout the United States where a drop of water is nowhere to be found.  Be a friend to your area birds and set out a bird bath in the area where they gather or nest; this can be as simple as a trash can lid filled with water and laid on the ground.  Freshen it every few days.  They will appreciate and use it!  🙂

Seeking shade and soaring also provide relief.  In addition, birds will puff out/spread their feathers periodically to allow any breezy circulating air reach their hot skin as another way to cool off.  I have recently seen many birds doing this.  The following puffed-up birds were all photographed cooling off in my backyard and community.

Mourning Dove “cooling off”

Mallard “cooling off”

American Robin “cooling off”

Green Heron “cooling off”

House Finch “cooling off”

Killdeer “cooling off”

Northern Mockingbird “cooling off”

House Finch “cooling off” on my balcony

Great Blue Heron “cooling off”

Thank goodness for a bird’s instinct to try to find ways to get relief from the heat.  Please remember, in extreme heat water is the most important thing for their survival, so if you can assist our feathered friends with any make-shift “birdbaths”, you’ll be helping them out tremendously.

Keep yourselves cool as well, and drink plenty of water!  As always, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you had an enjoyable & safe 4th of July!   🙂

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