Monday, December 22, 2008

Staying alive during storms.

Hi All, I know that there has been a great deal of severe weather lately (and more on the way)and thought I could address some very good questions about how eagles handle these 'hard times'. Fortunately, birds are equipped with feathers--lightweight and highly effective insulators--that help them deal with the cold. There are several types of feathers. For our discussion we are concerned with contour feathers and downy feathers.

Contour feathers include the flight feathers and outer body feathers, which provide aerodynamic shape and wind and rain protection. Importantly, birds increase the water resistance of these feathers by preening and spreading oils on their feathers from a gland, called the uropigial gland, located at the base of the tail.

Downy feathers are the feathers underneath the contour feathers that are specifically adapted for providing insulation. Birds are capable of controlling each and every feather on their body. This allows them to 'puff up' during colder weather and increase amount of insulation around their body.

Along with this tremendous ability to self-insulate, birds can increase their metabolic rate and burn fat stores to generate heat. Due to this capability, it is generally considered that a lack of food, rather than extreme cold, is what poses the greatest problem for most birds. If a bird can keep eating then it has a continuous supply of energy to use for generating heat. In light of this, birds in good condition should be able to weather short periods of stormy weather by 'sitting tight'. Longer periods of bad weather can pose serious problems for finding food and maintaining energy requirements.

Enjoy the winter, and keep an eye on the eagles.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Snow and Food!

Hi all,
I see that one of the eagles is tearing apart a carcass at the nest this morning. It is also snowing a bit. The weather is predicted to be dismal to miserable for the next few days so this could be an important meal for this bird. Thanks for all your posts and I look forward to hearing from you.
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Monday, December 08, 2008

Stream recovered!

Hi All,
I have reconnected the stream of the Eaglecam. We are up and running on a beautiful day in Maine.
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute