How do birds keep cool?

Have you ever wondered how birds keep cool on a hot day?

Birds don’t sweat like humans and they can’t change what they’re wearing, but they do have several techniques to keep their temperature down.

How Do Birds Keep Cool?

  • A Cold bath.
    On hot days birds will seek out water for a cold bath. Birds will bathe all year round as the water helps them to keep their feathers clean and well-groomed, but on hot days a bath has the added benefit of keeping their temperature down.
  • Panting.
    Much like dogs birds will pant to keep themselves cool. Panting draws air rapidly in and out of their bodies increasing the rate of evaporation of water from the fleshy areas of their respiratory tracts. This evaporation cools the bird down in the same way that evaporating perspiration from our human skin keeps us cool.

  • Click on the video below to see a wood pigeon panting to keep cool:

    The increase in evaporation that occurs when birds pant also increases the rate of water loss from their bodies. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to keep your birdbaths topped up.

  • Increasing Air Circulation.
    Air circulation is important for dissipating heat and much like humans, birds appreciate a cooling wind to keep their temperature down. To help with this, birds will often hold their wings away from their bodies to expose both the underside of the wings and the area of the body against which the wings rest. This greatly increases their overall surface area allowing the air to pass over them and carry heat away rom their bodies.
  • A pigeon keeping cool in a tree.
    One of the ways birds keep cool is to hold their wings away from their bodies to aid the free circulation of cooling air.

Keep Your Bird Baths Topped Up

As well as keeping cool them cool in the summer, birds will also seek out birdbaths in the winter. Bathing helps birds to maintain their feathers by keeping them clean and allowing them to preen more easily, this ensures that their feathers provide maximum insulation during the cold winter months.

To help birds out it’s a good idea to keep your birdbath topped up and fresh all year round, and remember, hygiene is important too, see our article on birdtable and birdbath hygiene.

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