Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Birds keeping cool

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Birds in the backyard Updated: August 28, 2013 - 2:07 PM

 If you haven't created a watering place for birds to drink and bathe, today is the day to do it. Birds have developed strategies for keeping cool. Water, though, will be much apprecioated. It can be as simple and temporary as a large sheet of plastic spread in the shade with your lawn sprinkler directed at it. Create some dips and valleys where the water can collect. 

The photos show birds in various heat-related reactions. The Red-tail Hawk at Westwood Nature Center in St. Louis Park is doing what many birds do on hot days: opening up and letting the air in. The bird is exposing as much body area as it can. The hawk, unable to care for itself in the wild, was photographed in a large shaded outdoor aviary at the center. It's a beautiful bird. The Lark Bunting was trying to keep cool the same way. This bird was photographed on a South Dakota grassland on a day when the temp was over 100 degrees. It was close to midday, shade at a minimum. Fence posts did offer about three inches of shade on the north side. Buntings and meadowlarks were using that shade, perching tight against posts.

The Wild Turkey, also found at Westwood, was panting through its open bill. Heat exchange via air is another way to cool.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird took a brief rest yesterday in the hand of Excelsior photographer Rebecca Hahn. The bird was feeding on hosta blooms, in the sun, when Rebecca extended her hand. She was surprised to see her offer accepted. Rebecca said the bird appeared exhausred. It rested for a few moments, then flew off to a nearby tree. Rebecca used one hand for the bird, the other for her camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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