Birds Coping with the New Heat.
Heat is becoming unbearable for humans inhabiting many parts of the world,
But have we also been considering the plight of our bird populations?
Temperatures are high enough that the normal methods birds
Cope with elevated temperatures are reaching their biological limits.
Gular fluttering--mouth open and 'fluttering' neck muscles
Pumps air in and out of the throat and is used by many birds to cool down,
But this function also causes water loss.
Small birds like Goldfinches just do not have the body mass to cope.
Other species, such as the Curve-billed Thrasher are bound to a desert habitat,
Where temperatures are becoming extremely high--
The Mojave Desert is now reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bill size has been found to correlate with temperature--
Large bill, higher temps, so that blood flow will dissipate temperatures.
Opening out wings while standing alleviates heat build up.
A bird's normal temperature of about 106 degrees F, has been recorded at 111 F.
Tree swallows have been recorded laying their eggs 9 days earlier than normal.
Warblers, especially, have shifted their home ranges northward.
Migration of many bird species are also changing with the heat increases.
For a biologist, becoming more aware of all these changing factors,
The burden of shifting life processes is sometimes overwhelming.
Frank Maurer 16 July 2023
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