House Finch - Titmouse - Junco - Female Cardinal - Male Cardinal
How do birds―especially the little delicate guys like chickadees and titmice―survive the single-digit temperatures and whipping winds of winter?
It turns out that birds (even the little guys) aren’t so delicate after all, and they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeve (uh, wing), too.
Their first layer of defense against the cold is their outer-most one: feathers. There’s a good reason why people love down-filled winter coats―feathers are fantastic insulation.
“Feathers are incredibly specialized structures that serve many purposes including, for many species, keeping them warm,” says
“Birds’ feathers provide remarkable insulation against the cold, and the oil that coats feathers also provides waterproofing, which is important since the only thing worse than being cold, is being cold and wet,” Peter Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the National Zoo.