Cool Birds

1991-08 Karin & Teri in sprinklersAs my grandmother always said, “Horses sweat. Men perspire. Women glow.” How do we avoid this sticky situation? Kids run through sprinklers and adults head for the air conditioning, but what do the birds do when the thermometer climbs? They don’t sweat they can’t take advantage of the A/C. However, that doesn’t mean they just sit there and bake, either.

Because birds have relatively high body temperatures—a Golden Kinglet’s temperature was measured at 111° F!—it’s critical that they avoid getting too warm. Many essential proteins begin to break down at temperatures just a few degrees higher, so overheating could easily be fatal. Thankfully, birds have all sorts of ways of beating the heat.

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Cool Birds

lah_6691Here in Colorado, it’s the hottest summer in anyone’s memory. I’ve had a major case of birding ennui, canceling trip after trip when the mercury topped 100⁰F. The birds are smart enough to nap during the heat of the day, and I’m learning from their example.

However, when our Audubon chapter scheduled a trip up 14,265 Mt. Evans, I jumped at the chance. It’s not every day you can beat the heat and have a chance at a lifer, all on the same trip.

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Cool Wildflowers

alpine-paintbrush_mtevans-co_lah_4409We’re in the middle of summer, that season I’ve waited for all year. All those December dreams of dahlias, March musings of marigolds—and now it’s too hot to go outside! A friend and I have been planning, then delaying, a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens for several weeks, hoping for a cooler day that will allow for a more enjoyable visit and better photos. Meanwhile, what’s a sweaty flower lover to do?

Head for the hills!

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Plant Fall Crops Now

Plant? NOW?

brusselssprouts_dbg_lah_7726Temperatures are climbing into the 90s, your spring-planted crops are reaching maturity, and you’re excited about garden fresh salads and new potatoes. Besides harvesting your bounty, there are millions of weeds to be pulled, poisoned, or decapitated. The last thing on your mind is planting more seeds.

In more benign climates, fall crops go in at the end of the summer, after the worst heat has passed. Our short season demands that we plant fall crops earlier, to give them time to mature before the snow flies. Now is the time.

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Some Cool Birding Ideas

sunset-grandcanyon-plhSpring migration is over, and the birds are all focused on mating and raising their families. The weather is too darn hot outside to be enjoyable, especially when one is hauling binos, field guide, water, scope with tripod, notebook, lunch, and possibly a camera. Then, to top things off, the sun is coming up at an hour when even birders would prefer to catch a few extra zzz’s. The early birds can have their worms.

Of course, most of us won’t let a few inconveniences like that stop us from birding. Sure, we may have a bit less enthusiasm, but we’ll still traipse around in the hot sun if there is the possibility of seeing some birds. But wait. You don’t have to suffer in the heat. There are a few things we can do to make our excursions more bearable.

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