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Chickadees and Hummingbirds - Cold Weather Survivalists

Have you ever wondered what becomes of birds and other small creatures during the winter? When temperatures drop below freezing -- and remain there for extended periods -- many wild animals suffer. Some, however, are specially adapted to survive the frigid temperatures.

hummingbirdChickadees and Hummingbirds
According to a report in the journal eNature, biologist Susan M. Smith says that black-capped chicadees have "carefully hidden food items, dense winter coats, specially selected winter roost cavities," and other techniques for making it through the long, cold days of winter. But more importantly, these birds have the ability to go into a controlled hypothermic state called torpor. This lets them conserve vast amounts of energy during cold snaps and at night when temperatures plummet.

During the torpor state, a chickadee's body temperature can drop by 12 or 15 degrees, letting them conserve about a quarter of the calories they would normally expend. But the chickadee is not alone in its impressive response to freezing temperatures. Hummingbirds conserve energy while they're sleeping or when food is scarce. In the winter, they can also fall into torpor state that allows their metabolic rate drops to 1/15th of its normal rate. Pretty remarkable!

hummingbird





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