“How do birds stay cool in the summer?” One of our patrons saw a mother bird who had built her nest in a sunny window. The bird had her mouth open as though she was panting, and was shading the nest with her wings.
As it turns out, those are two common ways birds cool themselves down. They have their own way of panting, and may also open their mouths and flutter the throat muscles to release heat. They’ll also open up their wings and spread out their feathers to let the air circulate around their bodies. The mother bird our patron saw may have been both cooling down her babies and herself.
We found our answers on the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission website and the Audubon Magazine blog. Both sources suggest installing a birdbath if you’d like to help your feathered friends beat the heat. Not only does it provide a source of fresh drinking water, but it gives the birds a place to splash around. The Newton Falls Public Library has books on birdbaths available, including “Projects for the Birder’s Garden” and Edward A. Baldwin’s “Birdfeeders, Shelters, and Baths.”
We didn't go into all the ways that birds can cool themselves down – turkey vultures have a particularly unsavory way of going about it. If you’re curious, you can find out how in Joey Slinger’s “Down and Dirty Birding.”