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Archive for September 4, 2012

How Great Blue Herons Stay Cool

Birds have a number of ways of keeping cool, which is a good thing,  given the number of hot days we’ve experienced this summer, and probably for summers to come.  They don’t sweat, nor do they pant, but birds do have several  behavioral adaptations which reduce their temperature.  Often, while exposed to the relentless heat of the sun, Great Blue Heron nestlings resort to what is called gular fluttering.  They open their mouths and “flutter” their  neck muscles, promoting heat loss – an avian version of panting.   An even easier behavior to observe is the position Great Blue Herons will often assume on a hot day.  They droop their wings (see photograph) while standing, which allows air to circulate across their body and sweep away the excess heat.