Nav: Home

Small birds almost overheat while feeding their young

May 16, 2018

For decades, researchers have thought that access to food determined the brood size of birds. Now, biologists at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a completely new explanation: the body temperature of small birds can increase by more than 4°C to exceed 45°C when they are feeding their young. Larger broods would require more work, resulting in even higher body temperatures - something the birds would probably not survive.

"A body temperature of over 45°C must be close to fatal even for small birds", says Jan-Åke Nilsson, professor at Lund University.

Small birds, passerines, normally have a body temperature of around 41°C. Jan-Åke Nilsson and his colleague Andreas Nord studied marsh tits, discovering that their body temperature increased considerably as they worked hard, for example when feeding their young.

Flying back and forth to the nest means they do not get the opportunity to get rid of excess heat, resulting in a higher body temperature.

In addition, the study shows that the tits' body temperature follows the surrounding temperature. When the weather is warm, the birds' body temperature increases.

"If the climate becomes warmer, it could make small birds more vulnerable. Warmer springs would force them to produce and raise fewer offspring because they cannot feed them as often without risking death", says Jan-Åke Nilsson.

The researchers conducted the study by manipulating the brood size of the tits, making the broods larger or smaller. This enabled them to increase the variation in how hard the birds were forced to work. When the parents returned to the nesting box, the researchers measured their body temperature.

"It is interesting to observe that the marsh tits' physiological systems worked even with fluctuations in temperature of the magnitude we have shown. Imagine how humans would feel if our body temperature increased by 4°C", concludes Jan-Åke Nilsson.
-end-


Lund University

Related Birds Articles:

Birds become immune to influenza
An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.
Even non-migratory birds use a magnetic compass
Not only migratory birds use a built-in magnetic compass to navigate correctly.
When birds of a feather poop together
Algal blooms deplete oxygen in lakes, produce toxins, and end up killing aquatic life in the lake.
Birds of a feather mob together
Dive bombing a much larger bird isn't just a courageous act by often smaller bird species to keep predators at bay.
Monitoring birds by drone
Forget delivering packages or taking aerial photographs -- drones can even count small birds!
The color of birds
New research provides insight into plumage evolution.
Migrating birds speed up in spring
It turns out being the early bird really does have its advantages.
Birds on top of the world, with nowhere to go
Climate change could make much of the Arctic unsuitable for millions of migratory birds that travel north to breed each year, according to a new international study published today in Global Change Biology.
City birds again prove to be angrier than rural birds
The researchers' observations shed light on the effects of human population expansion on wildlife.
Teaching drones about the birds and the bees
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of the future will be able to visually coordinate their flight and navigation just like birds and flying insects do, without needing human input, radar or even GPS satellite navigation.

Related Birds Reading:

The Genius of Birds
by Jennifer Ackerman (Author)

An award-winning science writer tours the globe to reveal what makes birds capable of such extraordinary feats of mental prowess
 
Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. According to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence. In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores their newly discovered brilliance and how it came about.

As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research, Ackerman not only tells the story of the recently uncovered... View Details


National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Backyard Guides)
by Jonathan Alderfer (Author), Paul Hess (Author)

Essential for the millions of Americans who watch and feed birds in their backyards—whether experienced birders or new birding enthusiasts—from the experts at National Geographic and co-author of the popular and perennial best seller Field Guide to the Birds of North America.
 
No matter where you live—in the country, city, a high-rise or house—this handy guide will quench your curiosity about the feathered creatures in your midst. It features 150 of the most common and interesting birds likely to be observed at backyard feeders, nesting nearby or just migrating... View Details


National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region, Revised Edition
by National Audubon Society (Editor)

The bestselling photographic field guide--a birding bible for more than four million enthusiasts.

Virtually every bird found in eastern North America is brought to life in this portable guide, an essential companion in the field and a staple in any birdwatcher's library. It features a durable vinyl binding and brilliant full-color photographic identification pictures arranged for quick access and definitive text, including information on the bird's voice, nesting habits, habitat, range, and interesting behaviors. Accompanying range maps; overhead flight silhouettes; sections on... View Details


Birds of a Feather: A True Story of Hope and the Healing Power of Animals
by Lorin Lindner (Author)

"This true story will twist your heart like a sponge and renew your faith in the world." ―Lee Woodruff, co-author with Bob Woodruff of the New York Times bestseller In an Instant

"A heartwarming book." ―Vicki Myron, author of New York Times #1 Bestseller Dewey

"Reminds us of the extraordinary ways caring people are helping the men and women who have served our country...and animals along with them." ―Maxine Waters

"I defy anyone to read it without shedding tears." ―Rosemary Low, author of... View Details


National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition
by Jon L. Dunn (Author), Jonathan Alderfer (Author)

This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.

With more than 2.75 million copies in print, this perennial bestseller is the most frequently updated of all North American bird field guides. Filled with hand-painted illustrations from top nature artists (including the ever-popular hummingbird), this latest edition is poised to become an instant must-have for every serious... View Details


Birds of the Photo Ark
by Noah Strycker (Author), Joel Sartore (Photographer)

For avian enthusiasts, from armchair observers to dedicated life-listers, this brilliant book from acclaimed National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore celebrates the beauty of all birds, great and small.

This elegantly packaged celebration of birds from around the world unites incredible animal portraits from Joel Sartore's distinguished National Geographic Photo Ark project with inspiring text by up-and-coming birder Noah Strycker. It includes hundreds of species, from tiny finches to charismatic eagles; brilliant toucans, intricate birds of paradise, and perennial... View Details


Birds: A Fully Illustrated, Authoritative and Easy-to-Use Guide (A Golden Guide from St. Martin's Press)
by Herbert S. Zim (Author), Ira N. Gabrielson (Author), Chandler S. Robbins (Editor), James Gordon Irving (Editor)

This guide will help you identify-quickly and easily-the birds you are most likely to see. It tells you:

What to look for
Where and when to look
How to attract birds

Range maps show where each bird is found, and handy tables at the back of the book contain a wealth of additional information about migration, eggs, nests, and food. This is the perfect bird book for beginners at any age.

View Details


Birds, Nests & Eggs (Take Along Guides)
by Mel Boring (Author)

A fun, informative take-along guide that will help children identify 15 birds. Kid will also learn how and where birds build their homes and all about their young. Plus the guide features activities that are fun and easy to do. There's also a seven-page scrapbook for drawings and notes.Invites young naturalists to spot wildlife. Safety tips are provided and interesting activities are sugested. Color illustrations enhance the presentation. ―-HORN BOOKS (Tracks, Scats and Signs) View Details


Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 6th Edition (Peterson Field Guides)
by Roger Tory Peterson (Author)

Guide to birds of eastern and central north america guides a unique identification system, which has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. This guide is illustrated with drawings and photographs in color and black and white and all provide up to date range information and the most useful descriptions, pinpoints key field marks for quick recognition and easy comparison of species. Measures 5.3 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches. View Details


Mrs. Peanuckle's Bird Alphabet (Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet)
by Mrs. Peanuckle (Author), Jessie Ford (Illustrator)

From the albatross to the zebra finch, Mrs. Peanuckle pulls out her binoculars and introduces toddlers to 26 species of birds from all around the world. Described by a single interesting fact or defining characteristic, each bird proves to be as unique and surprising as the one before. Ever wonder why flamingoes are pink? It’s all those shrimp they eat. Are there birds that can fly backward? Yes, but hummingbirds are the only ones! With colorful, dynamic art, and attention-grabbing text, Mrs. Peanuckle’s birds fly off the page, and in some cases, into the parks and backyards of the... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Attention Please
In an age of constant information and infinite distractions, how can we pay more attention to our ... attention? This hour, TED speakers explore the battle for our awareness during the digital age. Guests include sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, podcast host Manoush Zomorodi, neuroscientist Amishi Jha, designer Tristan Harris, and computer scientist Jaron Lanier.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#475 Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning how deadly and delightful our planet and its ecosystem can be. We're joined by biologist Dan Riskin, co-host of Discovery Canada's Daily Planet, to talk about his book "Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You: a Lively Tour Through the Dark Side of the Natural World." And we'll talk to astronomer and author Phil Plait about Science Getaways, his company that offers educational vacation experiences for science lovers.