Friday, December 18, 2009
Stokes Feeder Friday: Cold Toes
Brrr, it's very cold here, 3 degrees this am. The birds that are coming to the seed sprinkled on our deck are sitting on their toes to keep their legs warm. While my toes are the first thing to get cold in this weather when I go outside, birds have special adaptations to keep their legs and feet warm.
Underneath the scaly skin of their legs, the arteries carrying warm blood, are very close to the veins and help warm the blood in the veins before it returns to the body. However, on super cold days, birds will cover their legs by puffing up their feathers and sitting down on their legs, or you may see them pulling one leg up into their body when standing upright. The puffed up feathers trap air, so it's like placing a down coat over their legs.
I have to rely on my down parka, down mittens, long underwear, L.L. Bean winter boots and thick wool socks to stay warm. I'll need all of that tomorrow, which is our area of NH's Christmas Bird Count and the forecast is for continued cold.
Feeder hints to warm the birds— Keep feeders full, sprinkle seed in sheltered locations near your house to accomodate the ground feeding species like those above, and put up suet feeders. The high fat of suet provides needed calories to stoke the birds furnaces in this super cold.