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How do birds bare feet handle the cold?

Posted by Linda Pittman on

bird bathBirds little feet are complicated little things.  They have adapted inside as well as out. Blood vessels in the legs going down into the feet are right beside veins coming back up.  So the warm blood transfers it's heat to the cold blood coming up, warming it before it enters the legs. Not much body heat is lost to cold feet.  Also, those bare feet and legs are pretty non muscular and rather bony, with minimal blood needs. Those feet look bare, but what you aren't noticing is that the feet are covered in tiny scales, like mini little fingernails.  So think of yours: there is no blood flow in them to loose heat, there is no real fluid in there to freeze or frostbite. Birds like ducks and geese have been known to freeze to the ice.  They were rescued and then vet checked by the rescue groups before being released. So even frozen in doesn't seem to damage them.

So we can look out our nice, warm windows and not have to worry too much about our feathered friends.

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