Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keeping Warm - Adaptive Behavior

As I discussed in the post about the Black-capped Chickadee birds have many strategies to help them survive cold winter conditions from eating calorie-rich foods, to shivering, to puffing up their feathers, to seeking shelter.  Some birds find creative ways to stay warm.

European Starlings warming themselves on a chimney flue

A few winters ago, when we lived in a different house, a group of European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) would sometimes take up station on our chimney.  They would perch directly on the edge of the flue, puff up their feathers to trap air close to their body, and let the exhaust fumes from the furnace warm them.  Starlings were the only birds that we saw do this regularly and they only did it during the coldest days of the winter. They would regularly turn around warming different parts of their body and would often stay most of the day, leaving only to feed.

The closest Starling has turned to warm its front.

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