Summer is a bright season that brings us all our favorite fruits and the independence of eating as many popsicles as we want. It is also the month of sunbathing and making sandcastles on the beaches. While summer might be the favorite season for you, for the birds, it is not as great. Most birds fight for their survival in these hot months, with a substantial population losing their lives in the process. But why does this happen? Let’s find out whether or not do birds sweat. If not, how do they keep cool?
Do birds sweat? No, they don’t. Unlike us, birds do not possess sweat glands and are incapable of sweating. Instead, they practice evaporative cooling by opening their beaks and letting cool air pass through their mouth, throat, and wet mucus membranes. Summers can be a difficult time for birds as they can overheat easily. To prevent it, they practice panting, fluffing their feathers, bathing, and resting.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to learn about how birds survive the hot summer months.
Do birds regulate their body temperature? How?
Did you know that birds are homoeothermic? Perhaps most of you are hearing this term for the very first time. Let’s find out what “homoeothermic” means.
Birds are warm-blooded, which means they must maintain their body temperature internally. They’re called “homeothermic” because they regulate their internal temperature continually, regardless of the temperature in their surroundings. Their body temperature should ideally range between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius.
Birds must use more inventive methods to keep heat in or out. They have a remarkable ability to regulate their body temperature. Do you want to learn more about how they achieve it? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss now.
The role of feathers
‘Birds do not use feathers just to take flight. Have you ever wondered what other purposes could their feathers serve? Let’s solve this puzzle.
Feathers keep them warm. It regulates their body temperature, depending on their climate. Some species have feathers that can trap air in little pockets. These keep them warm by keeping them close to the body.
The sight of a bird sunbathing in the sun with its head tucked tightly into its feathers is quite common for all. They do this because both their heads and feet help in controlling their body temperature.
Shade And Activity
Controlling energy expenditure is essential for birds when it comes to temperature management. This is why birds hibernate during the hottest parts of the day and seek food or other essentials in the cold of the mornings and evenings.
Shaded areas provide them with more protection from extreme heat. On warm days, some birds take to the skies in search of cooler temperatures at higher altitudes.
Birds do not drool as much as dogs. They can breathe to release body heat through their open mouths. They inhale and exhale rapid bursts of cool air, along with a portion of their body heat.
Air can flow through their organs in a single direction without disturbing the air already present inside and sacrificing Oxygen absorption.
Furthermore, some bird species can even flex their throat or mouth to increase the surface area of their artery-laden tissues, further lowering their body temperature.
How do birds handle hot weather?
In the last section, we learned how regulating body temperature is a common chore for all birds. But while maintaining their body temperature might be easy during winters, in summers, it is much more difficult.
How are these birdies able to keep their body temperature intact on hot summer days? Let’s find out.
As you might already know, unlike us, birds don’t have sweat glands, which is a basic form of cooling through evaporation. Instead, they undergo evaporative cooling by leaving their beaks open throughout the hot summer months.
In the process, they allow the cool air outside to pass over their wet mucus membranes in the mouth and throat. However, this implies that more water is lost, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration in their bodies.
Apart from evaporative cooling, birds also enjoy cooling off by taking a bath or going swimming, just like we do. They can release their body heat to the cooler water around them by submerging exposed skin.
After a wash, some birds fluff up their feathers and spread their wings to receive an airflow, which helps them cool off even more. Are you wondering what temperature can be too hot for the little birds? Keep reading.
What temperature is too hot for them?
Birds regulate their internal body temperature within a limited range. The average temperature for birds is normally 39-43 degrees Celsius (102-109 degrees F). The surface temperature is generally lower than the bird’s core temperature.
Thus, their metabolism generates heat to keep the birds warm. While the outside air temperature reaches roughly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), the bird’s metabolic heat causes it to overheat. As a result, the birds must chill out a bit.
Factors that can cause birds to overheat
Did you know that birds could die of overheating? Yes, you read that right. Overheating can be dangerous to a bird’s health and could even lead to their death if they have trouble cooling down.
Birds can overheat if they are left outside in direct sunlight. They can also overheat if exposed to an inside too high heat source. Moreover, if a bird is overweight, the extra weight can lead to overheating, too.
If you wish to save the birds in your backyard from overheating in the summer months, you must first learn more about the various causes, symptoms, and treatments of it.
Causes of Overheating
- If a bird’s cage or feeder is in direct sunshine and there is no shade available, either outside or in a hot sunroom, your bird might become overheated.
- Inadequate ventilation and an excessively hot source of heat (air conditioner, bulb near your bird’s cage)
- Overweight birds are more vulnerable to overheating than those that are lighter.
- When there are too many birds in one enclosure, the excessive crowd can also lead to overheating.
- Leaving your bird in a hot car for long periods of time with no breaks can make them overheated.
- Wrapping them in a towel for an excessive amount of time (when restrained) can cause them to overheat as well.
Symptoms of Overheating
- When your bird extends its wings away from its body to cool down, it seems ‘fluffed out.’ This is a solid symptom of overheating.
- It’s possible that your bird will act agitated and out of character.
- They could be atypically aggressive or atypically calm.
- If your bird pants or breaths with an open mouth, it is trying to cool down.
- Repeatedly head tilting is an indication of neurological discomfort.
- It’s possible that your bird isn’t as active as usual. They might sit extremely quietly on the cage floor.
Treatment of Overheating
Unless your bird is in a near-comatose condition, you might be able to cure the hyperthermia at home by yourself, without needing to consult a veterinarian. However, if you’re new to it and don’t know how to proceed, it’s best to take them to a professional or an avian vet.
Your veterinarian will generally advise spraying your bird or putting them in a room-temperature bath to calm them down. Coldwater might cause your bird to go into shock initially, so you must use extreme caution. It’s also a good idea to moisten your bird’s feet and legs to help them cool down.
When your bird is alone at home on hot days, make sure that their cage provides shade and a breeze. A slightly open window or a fan set on slow to circulate the air are all great ways to accomplish it, but don’t direct the air straight at your bird.
How do birds prevent overheating in hot weather?
When the temperature in summer continues to rise, we often confine ourselves within our air-conditioned establishments to stay cool. But what about the birds? Well, while these avian creatures might not be as evolved as we are, but they also know how to look after themselves.
Birds use a variety of strategies to beat the heat, taking advantage of both their surroundings and their own intuitions. Take a look at some of these marvelous “bird brain” techniques used to prevent overheating:
Birds pant by rapidly breathing, moving air across the moist surfaces of their lungs, throat, and mouth. This moisture subsequently evaporates, absorbing heat from their body. When they exhale, some of the heat is carried outside, making them feel cooler.
Birds fluff their feathers and spread their wings so that air can access their surface and chase away some of their body temperatures.
Birds spend the majority of their time flying, singing, and eating in the dawn and dusk when the temperature is lower. They spend much more time relaxing silently in the canopy all through warm afternoons.
Birds, like us, enjoy bathing in shallow water and splashing around to cool off on the hottest days.
How can you help?
In the last section, we learned about the measures birds take to prevent overheating in their bodies. Do you want to extend a helping hand to these little birdies and help them survive hot summers? If you’re eager to help, here are a few things you could do:
- You can create cool, relaxing sanctuaries in your yard in order to spend the rest of the season relaxing with your feathered friends. Water is essential for keeping birds cool.
- Installing a simple birdbath is the first step. Moreover, spilling sounds and glittering reflections attract birds, which is why you can also include movement created by a dripper or fountain in your birdbath.
- Create deeply tiered outdoor spaces with wider native plants and vegetation all over tree trunks to provide cool shelter in your yard.
Conclusion: Do birds sweat?
With this, we come to the end of our article. Today, we’ve learned that birds are incapable of sweating in the heat, unlike us, because they don’t possess sweat glands. For this reason, the hot summer months are particularly more difficult for them to survive.
Although birds have devised several techniques like bathing, panting, and fluffing their feathers to combat overheating, some of them still suffer from it and end up dying. As an avid birder, you can set up large birdbaths in your yard to help them survive summers.