Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coping with Winter

       Many times I have looked at birds or mammals on a very nasty winter day and wondered how they cope with adverse winter weather. I have found myself being extremely uncomfortable and yet some bird or mammal is bouncing along as if there is no problem.

      Well, birds and mammals do suffer, but there are many adaptations which keep them healthy and warm even in the most inclement weather . Natural Wise will take one small example to get you thinking about how a species copes with nasty winter conditions.

       I will use one species as an example. I've posted on the white tailed jack rabbit  previously on Natural Wise. First, rabbits change color for the winter which provides them with camoflage which allows them to expend less energy fleeing from predators. Mammals and birds consume a tremendous amount of food each day to provide energy which mantains body temperature. Of course, the new white coat of the jack rabbit is an adaptation for winter. There is very fine hair fiber which insolates the body. Longer hair provides protection from wind.

      Each species has some unique adaptations. Some have lower blood circulation to the feet so that less body heat is lost. Some hibernate. Others become very inactive for several hours or days.

      So the next time you see some little critter out on a very inclement day, start to think about what adaptations may be present. Click on for more information.

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