Help Your Birds Cool Off In Hot Weather

In much of the continental U.S., it’s been a blistering hot start to summer.  Not only is it hard on people, but also on backyard birds.  Up to a point, birds can deal with high heat (around 92 degrees F).  But, after that, they need to do various things to cool off their rising body temperature.

The most obvious sign a bird is hot is when you see them with their beaks open.  You’ve probably seen this many times in your yard.  Since birds have feathers covering their body and no sweat glands, they must cool off in some other way.  So, they pant like a dog essentially, which moves air across moist areas of their mouths and throat.  The resulting evaporation creates cooling.  Also, birds will use the blood vessels in their legs to dissipate excess heat.

Birds will also ruffle their feathers out to allow heat to escape from around their skin.  Another strategy is they will remain more inactive to conserve moisture and energy, especially during the heat of the day.

One extremely good way you can help your backyard birds is to provide a birdbath for them to cool off in.   Water is much more efficient in transferring heat than air.  In this hot weather birds will both use the water to cool off, but also to replenish moisture in their bodies that they use up to stay cool.

When putting out water, shallower is better.  Most backyard birds won’t bathe in water deeper than inch or inch and a half.  This will mean you’ll probably have to fill the bath more often however due to use by the birds and faster evaporation due to the heat. But, it’s a very good thing to keep the water fresh and clean.  You’ll find more birds will use it.

So, keep lots of water in the yard during this hot weather.  You’ll be amazed at how many birds it will attract!



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Cornell Lab of Ornithology