Thursday, June 30, 2011
This has been one heck of a hot summer and we are only finishing June! There have been a few days over 100 F here in the valley around Houston, MN, and today was another scorcher around 100 F. This is brutally hot if you're a human, but imagine wearing a feather coat you can't take off!
So how do Rusty and Iris manage to stay cool in this heat? They pant a good chunk of the day, since they can't sweat. They also compress their feathers so they don't hold in their body heat. When really warm, they droop their wings to expose their "wingpits" to help cool even further.
Rusty showed me something I had never seen before while Iris had a drink at the bathpan...he PLUCKED some of his flank feathers! I've seen zillions of preening sessions with Alice over the 13 years I've lived with her, and I've never seen her PLUCK a feather. They simply just fall out when she's preening. But in this video Rusty is forcibly plucking a few feathers that he could get out (but most were too stubborn to come out.)
They also take baths to cool off in the heat. I don't have a water bath video to post here right now, but I did catch Rusty taking a SAND bath last night. Iris started taking "dust" baths in the gravel on the floor of the cage this spring, so I put in a sand bath. This was the first time I had seen either of them use it.