Burien, Washington

Andy Waters, Pat Toth, Rhonda Ham

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Burien, Washington

15858 First Avenue South #106
Burien, WA 98148

Phone: (206) 241-3201
Fax: (206) 241-3741
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Located near Trader Joe's at the Five Corners shopping mall

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Mewsings from Millie

When it's hot outside, I'm thankful to be in my air-conditioned habitat all cozy and comfortable. Watching my sparrow friends hopping around on the sidewalk got me wondering how they manage to stay cool when the heat is on.

It turns out that birds are well adapted to hot climates. They have both physical and behavioral characteristics that help them beat the heat.

For one thing, birds have a naturally higher body temperature than many other creatures. The average bird has a body temperature of about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Birds also have a high metabolic rate and an active lifestyle that generates even more body heat that must be controlled to stay healthy.

Birds do not have sweat glands but they have other physical characteristics to help them when it is hot. Birds have rapid respiration rates that allows them to dissipate heat through regular breathing. They have bare skin patches on the legs, feet and face to allow greater heat loss. Even a fleshy eye ring can help dispel heat.

I know I behave differently whether I am feeling hot or if I am feeling cold and birds do the same thing.

Birds will open their bills and pant to help dissipate heat. They will adapt their daily activities to suit the climate. Birds are less active during the heat of the day and more active when the sun is lower and the air is cooler.

More birds can be found in shady areas during the hottest times of the year, particularly near water sources and low to the ground. The more layers of branches and leaves about the ground, the more heat will be absorbed.

Birds of prey often soar at higher elevations on the hottest days. This doesn't get them out of the sun but the air temperatures are cooler.

Many birds will bathe to cool their bodies with water. They may simply walk through the water or shake it all over their bodies with head twists and wing flutters. Waterfowl will frequently dive beneath the surface to thoroughly wet when its hot.

If there is a cool breeze, birds may puff out their feathers to let the comforting air reach their skin. They may also hold their wings away from their bodies to lower their body temperature.

Birds with lighter-colored plumage may turn their lightest parts toward the sun on a hot day so more heat is reflected away from their bodies.

You humans can help the birds keep their cool, too. Provide a bird bath that's no more than 1 - 2 inches deep filled with fresh, clean water.  Water wigglers and drippers can add movement to a bath and will attract a wide variety of birds. A water feature can bring refreshment to the birds and the soothing sound of rippling water to your ears.

Plant native trees and shrubs at several levels which will provide plentiful, deep shade and shelter from the sun.

Finally, offer the birds nutritional food in clean, well-stocked feeders and they will not need to overheat themselves seeking food on hot days. I'm sure they would appreciate that!

Until next time,

Millie, the Muse of Mews