Birds offer a unique wonder and appeal that attracts people of all interests. Their vibrant colors, melodic songs, and the carefree way in which they flit from place to place inspires visual entertainment whether they are kept as pets or in your backyard.
Just like many animals, however, birds require special attention when temperatures begin to drop.
Below is information on how to ensure these graceful creatures stay warm and cozy during those cold nights and winter months.
What does a warm-blooded creature mean?
Warm-blooded refers to any creature able to maintain its body heat at a specific temperature, despite the surrounding climate.
The creatures achieve this process through both internal and external factors that contribute to either cooling down the animal’s body temperature in high heat levels or heating it back up in the intense cold.
Internal activities include metabolic functions, such as burning fat or shivering. They may also cause the animal to start panting, much like dogs do when they need to cool themselves down.
External aid comes in the form of fur or feathers expertly crafted to the needs of that particular species.
Are birds warm-blooded animals?
Yes! Birds, as well as mammals, are warm-blooded creatures. Unlike humans, whose internal temperature is maintained around 98.6F, most birds maintain their temperature at around 106F (41.1°C). Just like humans, this number fluctuates depending on individual factors.
Is it okay to leave birds outside?
If you have a pet bird, leaving them outside for any period seems like an incredible way to improve your pet’s quality of life.
Birds who spend time outdoors receive a natural boost of Vitamin D from the sun and tons of fresh air.
If you have an outdoor aviary, then this provides your pets with the added benefit of more space to fly and exercise.
However, these benefits are not without their drawbacks, and many recommend never leaving your pet outdoors, unattended, for any length of time.
Leaving domesticated birds outside increases their exposure to problems like parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens. It also places them at higher risk of escaping from their cage or being attacked by predators.
Regulating temperatures are also more easily attained indoors and prevent your pets from experiencing weather that might be too cold or too hot for them.
You might want to check Are Birds Secondary Consumers?
How do birds stay warm at night?
Birds use several different strategies to maintain their body temperatures as the weather cools for the evening. Both indoors and in the wild, these methods remain constant and are as much a part of their genetic makeup as it is their instincts.
Just like many mammals use a form of cuddling to raise their body temperatures, birds also snuggle together to absorb heat.
Their nests also act as shields from the cold while delivering a ray of warmth, much like how we wrap ourselves up in blankets.
Other techniques birds use to combat the cold are by trapping small pockets of hot air close to their bodies using their feathers. They puff up to lock in these air pockets and essentially insulate themselves in the process.
During the winter months, many birds emit a type of oil or powder that they then use to coat their wings and weatherproof them. This outer layer prevents the wings from getting too damp and allowing moisture to seep into their bodies.
You may want to read Are Birds Invertebrates Or Vertebrates?
How cold is too cold for birds?
There isn’t a set number for what is considered too cold for birds since an exact estimate typically revolves around the species. In general, anything below 40F (4.4°C) slips into dangerous territory, while some birds may even show signs of distress starting in 70-degree weather.
The key determinator to keep in mind is that, even though you might not realize it’s cold, your bird does. Being aware of drafts, places where light is sparse, or any other warning signs your bird may display are essential to ensure it’s warm and comfortable.
Can birds die from being too cold?
Just like all warm-blooded animals, extreme shifts in temperatures can result in the bird’s body shutting down and ultimately killing them.
This applies to both cold and hot weather, where the bird is no longer able to regulate its internal temperature properly.
Their small size also plays a role in their inability to fight off extreme temperatures, which is why even small dips that deviate beyond the climate of their natural habitat may result in disastrous consequences.
How can you tell if a bird is cold?
Your bird displays many physical changes to show that they are suffering from the cold, which makes identifying their discomfort much easier.
One obvious indicator is shivering, much like humans display when their body tries to warm itself back up from the cold.
They may also tuck their beaks in between their feathers, much like how we wear face coverings and hats to keep the warm air inside of our bodies. Doing this also promotes more efficient breathing due to the warmer circulation of air.
Another common sign your bird is cold is when they puff up their feathers.
This motion makes them look a little like a fluff ball when they do so and is caused by them trying to capture those pockets of air that keep them warm.
Many birds do this when they are sleeping as a normal reaction. So if it looks abnormal to you, double-check that there is no draft and that the temperatures surrounding the cage are warm enough.
If you are still not sure, check the placement of the bird’s legs. Birds tend to sleep with one leg close against their body and the other on their perch beneath them. If both feet are down, he or she is likely chilled.
How do you protect birds from cold weather?
Dealing with the cold is inevitable, even in traditionally warm sunny places like Florida and California. Birds often prepare for the winter months in the wild by packing on the pounds starting in late summer or fall.
Doing this provides them with an extra layer of insulation to keep them warm and enough fats to break down for an internal source of heating.
One way to assist them with this step is by giving them high energy foods they love.
Depending on the species, this host of menu items includes suet, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and much more. Doing this is also a great way to keep wild birds fed through the winter months outdoors when food is scarce.
Since birds are social creatures who love having a special someone to snuggle up with when it gets cold, you may also want to consider getting them a friend as a way to stave off the cold, lonely days and nights.
Outdoor birds benefit from small shelters where the birds can roost and set up a cozy, dry place throughout the winter.
Indoor birds, on the other hand, may need nothing more than a blanket to cover their cages to trap in the heat.
The most critical step to protecting your birds from the cold is closely monitoring them for signs of distress. Keep them away from windows or doors where cold air may leak in and continuously chill them.
You also don’t want to go the extreme route and place them too close to heaters or fireplaces.
Not only may the heat become too intense for them over time, but it may also expose them to harmful smoke and fumes.
Can caged birds survive in the wild?
While setting your bird free may seem like an act of mercy, it may be more of a death sentence. Birds that have been born and bred in captivity have not acquired the necessary skills to survive in the wild.
Skills such as burrowing and searching for their own food and developing instincts that protect them from predators are all things birds learn at a young age from other birds in their flock.
If all they know is how to get food from a dish that magically refills itself every morning, they won’t last too long on their own.
Even birds caught in the wild and later reintroduced into a habitat would only likely survive if the area in which they are released is similar to their native climate. These natural surroundings include having similar predators to their natural habitat.
One example of this comes from parrots, who still retain some of their wild instincts despite being born in captivity.
These majestic creatures are often tossed from their homes after the owner has had enough of their squawking. Retaining these instincts does not guarantee their success in the wild.
Unfortunately, birds need other birds of the same species to show them where to find food sources that not only fill their bellies but also meet their dietary needs.
They also need someone to show them where to build the appropriate shelter to survive. Not to mention, if a parrot is used to tropical weather that rarely drops below 70 degrees, it won’t withstand a winter in a part of the country where it snows.
Just like the other members of your household, your bird feels and experiences his surroundings on an individual level and maybe cold even when others are not. Knowing your bird’s regular habits and what signs to look for when it comes to them being cold goes a long way in ensuring your pet’s comfort.