26 December 2022
Three days ago the temperature in Pittsburgh fell from 40oF to -1oF in just 25 hours. Standing water froze rock hard. Everyone was walking on ice.
We humans have to wear insulated boots when the temperature is below freezing but birds walk on ice with their bare feet. They don’t they get frostbite because …
Birds are specially adapted to stay comfortable when it’s cold. They have fewer nerves and blood vessels in their feet and the veins and arteries in their legs are intertwined so that cold blood leaving their feet is warmed by incoming arterial blood.
Mourning doves are a slight exception to the rule and occasionally get frostbite. Read about their cold feet in this vintage article.
For more information on animals’ adaptations for cold weather see Dr. Heather Hinam’s tweet: https://twitter.com/SecondNatureMB/status/1606305716288905216
(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)