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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1/5 4pm

Thanks so much for the interesting info Patrick, imagine controlling every feather on your body! What if we had to control every hair on our body to keep warm/cool? (Maybe we would envy Donald Trump for how warm he stays!!).
Today I was lucky enough to see a hawk in a tree near my home and with binoculars I could see little wispy white feathers like a thin blanket over its talons. Cool! He was very puffed up, looking giant size. I thought it was a red-tailed hawk with that nice rusty mottling on the chest but its tail feathers were gray & black striped.
It seemed as I stopped to view him, he soon caught me - turning his head slightly to 'eye'me. I often wonder if the binocular glass catches light and tips him off. This can happen in the wild where my very shape moving & stopping could maybe catch the eye but also in an urban environment - like today, across the street from the library with cars moving both ways I thought I might blend in more with chaos....but I was seen within seconds. Does this ever happen to anyone?

Happy New Year all
J in S.P.ME

4:36 PM  
Blogger GG said...

07 Jan 2009
9:15AM (EST)

Hello Patrick,
What happened to 2009?
It appears some of the texts or blogs have gone awry.

Shouldn't we be up to Monday 2009 by now?

Thanks so much.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

01/06 @ 10:19

Thanks for the info. While I have not posted recently, I have been checking on the nest regularly and I do appreciate the year round cam!

Hopefully, 2009 will be good to all creatures great and small.


10:21 AM  

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