Birds do not pant, but have unique ways of cooling off. Gular fluttering is when a bird flutters its wings to let circulating cool air reach its skin. Birds will also exhale through their lungs and air sacs to release some of the heat in their bodies.
What You'll Learn
When birds feel extremely hot or overexerted, they have a few ways to cool off.
When birds take their first few flights, they will feel overexertion because they are just beginning to work out their wings. A young bird learning to fly will also require a lot of practice, leading to fatigue and activating the body’s response to overheating. This is one instance where you can see birds actively cooling off.
When it comes to hot weather, birds have learned to play it smart to stay cool. In the hot summer months, birds are at risk of dehydration and exhaustion. They use gular fluttering to stay as cool as possible.
Do Birds Sweat?
Birds do not have sweat glands and therefore do not have the capability of sweating. Birds will breathe rapidly when they are hot, carrying hot air out of their body through their lungs.
Like mammals, birds can not thermoregulate their body temperature. Birds are homeothermic, which means they are warm-blooded and maintain a steady internal temperature no matter how hot or cold their outside environment is.
Birds will cool down through gular fluttering. Gular fluttering is when birds will “flutter their wings” to create some cool air around them. When birds do this, their neck will quiver as they vibrate a membrane in the back of their heads. These motions allow birds to pass cool air into their bodies. This is a bird’s version of panting.
How Can You Keep a Bird Cool?
Like humans, birds can also be sensitive to high temperatures. They must also keep their internal body temperature in control.
Overheating can harm their lives when it gets too hot. Young birds will need to stay hydrated to stay alive. A fresh water source where they can hydrate and take a bath would help them stave off the heat for a while.
Installing a bird bath or fountain will give birds a place to rest while they spend their day searching for food for themselves and their families.
Bird baths should only be about an inch high so the birds have just enough water to dip their toes in.
Birds will also look for shade whenever they can, so having a small garden or a spacious yard where they can sit under some leaves will help keep them cool.
One way birds will try to beat the heat is by being less active when it is extremely hot and foraging for food in the colder mornings and evenings. They may also fly at higher altitudes where it’s a bit cooler.
Do Birds Keep Their Mouths Open When Hot?
Yes, this action promotes heat loss as the bird moves its neck muscles up and down to release the hot air.
Although this is not considered panting, birds can be compared to a dog who would stick its tongue out with its mouth open when feeling extremely hot or tired.
The lungs and air sacs of a bird are one-directional, so birds can let in fresh air with more oxygen than humans can without interfering with the hot air they are breathing out. This allows birds to exhale and still take in oxygen efficiently.
How Do Birds Take Care of Their Young in Extreme Heat?
After spring comes summer, when birds have just gone through the mating season and now must protect themselves and their family.
In the summer, the male and female birds will do what is necessary to keep their young from overheating when temperatures get really high.
The parents will take turns incubating eggs if the eggs haven’t already hatched. They will build nests in intricate and creative ways using any kind of material they can find. Usually, the male will do the building while the female cares for the babies by incubating.
They will also look for sources of water and shade in their environment where it is safe to raise their family away from predators. If still incubating, some birds will wet their feathers and put some drops of water on the eggs to keep the eggs from overheating.
Can Birds Feel Heat Exhaustion?
Excessive heat is detrimental to a bird’s life, and it is worse for young birds who have yet to develop.
When birds are too exhausted, it will be difficult for them to sing as they usually do every morning because singing itself takes a lot of energy out of them. Because of this, they will sing during cooler mornings and rest during the day when temperatures get scorching. This explains why you can hear birds in the cool summer mornings, but it gets quiet in the afternoon.
You can see a bird is feeling hot when it has a gaping beak and is holding its wings up to let some air touch its skin and feathers.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.