Thoughts to Ponder… Why Don’t Little Birds Legs Freeze… and Break Off?

submitted by Mike Webber

I think I may have mentioned in the past about the Stellar Jays that come to the big glass door to the upper deck above the cliff and let me know they want some Cheerios.

Our temps have been in the single digits for a number of days now and and it doesn’t bother them a bit – they just keep coming back for more Cheerios!

My question:    If the temp is 10 degrees, how come their feet don’t freeze………. and break off!  They got no insulated boots!   

Webber wonders – back to football!

A few quick responses – you may have more!!

“Birds actually use several tricks to keep their legs from freezing. First they can stand on one leg and pull the other up under their feathers when one leg starts getting too cold. And if it gets really cold, they can squat to cover both legs with breast feathers. If you see a bird doing this, they may be getting uncomfortably cold legs.

Also birds’ feet are mostly bone and tendons, so unlike mammals, they have a limited supply of nerves, blood vessels or muscles to freeze. Their feet are also covered with scales which isn’t a living tissue and less susceptible to freezing.

Finally, birds don’t have sweat glands in their skin to produce any moisture to freeze. Heat and moisture are accumulated in sacs, transferred to the lungs and eliminated through the mouth. No moisture escaping through their feet is also the reason they don’t stick to metal perches in the winter.”

“That is a profound thought, my friend!  God does indeed provide.”

Matthew 6:25-27  do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns [nor make boots for their footsies?], and yet your heavenly Father feeds them [and warms them?]. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

“It’s why they are so hungry.  High caloric burn rate requires a lot of food to keep their little high temperature internal furnaces humming.  I bet if they can’t find enough food they will freeze in a pro-longed cold snap.”

The last, so far, is too long to include but here’s the link:
http://www.ccmr.cornell.edu/education/ask/index.html?quid=967
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