Cornelius' Corner

"The Carolina Chickadee"

Cornelius’ Corner: “The Carolina Chickadee”

Hi readers – We hope you enjoyed the holidays while we were on break from the blog. Thanks for coming back to read more of our blog series!

Cornelius’ friend, the Carolina Chickadee, here. Today I will be sharing fun facts about how I stay warm in the winter.

I stay nice and toasty in winter, despite the fact that I’m a tiny bird (0.4 oz at most!). This is because I have several adaptations that help me keep warm. First, I have a higher body temperature than humans, at 108 degrees. In addition, my feathers help trap warm air close to my skin. I can also fluff out my feathers and cover my feet to bear the winter conditions.

When I’m busy searching for food during the winter time, I am extra quick. My quick speed increases my heart rate up to as many as 2,000 beats a minute! When I’m not snacking and just hanging out on a branch, I’m always flexing my muscles to generate more heat.

On a daily basis, I search for about 150 food items a day. When the temperatures plummet, I eat either double or triple that amount in order to maintain my body heat. At this time of year, I especially look for high fat foods like seeds and berries because they provide extra energy to burn for warmth. Here in the park, safflower and sunflower seeds are a favorite!

When the temperatures drop below freezing, I will huddle together with a group of my friends to stay warm in a cozy place like an empty woodpecker hole, bird house, or even an upper corner in a porch or garage. On extra cold nights, I can go into torpor, which is a kind of regulated hypothermia. In this state, my heart rate drops to 500 beats per minute and my body temperature can drop as far as 20 degrees below normal. This helps to preserve my metabolism to avoid running out of energy throughout the night.

By morning, though, you can catch me out at the Grist Mill stocking up on seeds to prepare for another cold night with old man winter. Be sure to say hi if you are near the bird feeder in the Native Pollinator Garden by the Visitor Center!

Thanks for reading my blog! Stay tuned for more posts. See you at the Grist Mill!



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