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Scientists have studied birds to try to understand how they stay warm during the cold winter months — the answer is a variety of strategies, including adding a “coat” of feathers, shivering, and some species, such as chickadees and bluebirds, huddle together to share heat — all things that humans do too. But other cold-weather adaptations are more unique to birds — The Washington Post explains that in addition, they puff out their chest feathers to let air in and that creates a toasty layer of warmth — like putting on a wet suit — or they lower their body temperature dramatically to make it closer to the air temperature – a strategy known as torpor.
Why This Matters: Understanding animal adaptation is one way we humans can learn to better adapt to our changing environment. And it can help us to know how to make it easier for birds to survive these cold winter months — especially now that we understand that many bird populations are shrinking rapidly and we need to take actions to help them survive and thrive even as we humans encroach on their habitat. As we reported last fall, recent studies show that bird populations have declined nearly 30 percent — a loss of 3 billion birds — in the last fifty years. In order to help birds, we will also need to conserve more of their habitat, which is a goal of the #30×30 campaign to conserve 30% of the planet for nature and wildlife by 2030.
Provide Them Shelter in Your Yard — create a cozy hiding place for them using a pile of brush sticks and evergreen branches or buy or build a special type of birdhouse called a roost box that has thick walls with a hole at the bottom for them to enter and can rest on perches inside.
Feed Them — install a feeder, or make your own using pine cones, peanut butter, and seeds and keep them full especially during a storm when food will be especially hard for them to find. Be sure to protect the birds from crashing into windows (another big problem for birds) by placing the feeders either within five to 10 feet of your home or more than 20 feet away.
Give Them A Bird Bath — birds need water to drink and to keep their feathers in good shape — clean feathers keep birds warmer and help them to fly better. Make sure that the bath is always full of water.
By Will Gartshore, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s an old aphorism that still rings painfully true today. Long before Covid-19, the three deadliest pandemics in human history—the bubonic plague, Spanish influenza and HIV/AIDS—claimed more lives than all the […]
We know the permafrost in the Arctic is melting fast, but a new study finds that one of the reasons for its rapid decline may be that beavers are actually damming it up — literally. CNN reports that using satellite images scientists have observed that beavers are building dams way farther north than previously observed. […]
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, animals have enjoyed the freedom of a quieter world by venturing further into cities and suburbs. While this “anthropause” has made for thrilling YouTube videos, scientists have taken the opportunity to study the effects of human activity across geographic regions, ecosystems, their effect on species. Researchers have been tracking animal movements […]
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