Sunday, January 13, 2013

A C...o...l...d Weekend

Saturday morning temperatures were in the low 20's when I got up.
The cats decided to enjoy the winter sunshine indoors.  

One of the first things I did was put out the hummingbird feeders.
Almost instantly there were visitors.

I read that on very cold days it becomes critical for the Anna's to have access to food immediately in the morning and last thing in the evening as they come out of and prepare for a state called topor *. 

Anna's Hummingbirds normally have a body temperature of around 107 degrees Fahrenheit.  When outside temperatures drop, Anna's enter a state called torpor. Their breathing and heart rate slow, and their body temperature can fall as low as 48 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature warms, the hummingbirds can become active again in a few minutes.

What amazing little creatures they are!

Other birds are burning extra calories fighting the cold weather.  The suet feeders were very popular with female Flickers...

...and male Flickers having a bite.

As soon as the frost disappeared, the Flickers were hard at work looking for insects on the ground. 

The Quail appeared to bask in the cold winter sun.
Everyone needs some Vitamin D!

The thinnest of crescent moons was already low in the sky by 5:30pm Saturday evening.  Apparently a moonless night called out an entire Parliament of Great Horned Owls.  I awoke around 5:00am Sunday morning and could clearly hear at least three (and maybe more) owls talking and talking to one another.  As the sun will not rise until 7:45am, they still have an hour or so to hunt and talk under the cover of a moonless night.   

* Torpor - Torpor is a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, usually by a reduced body temperature and rate of metabolism. Torpor is used to enable animals to survive periods of reduced food availability. A torpor bout can refer to the period of time a hibernator spends at low body temperature, and last days to weeks, or it can refer to a period of low body temperature and metabolism lasting less than 24 hours, as in 'daily torpor'. During the active part of their day, animals that undergo daily torpor maintain normal body temperature and activity levels, but their metabolic rate and body temperature drops during a portion of the day (usually night) to conserve energy. Torpor is often used to help animals survive during periods of colder temperatures, as it allows the organism to save the amount of energy that would normally be used to maintain a high body temperature. (Wikipedia)


Wanda said...

Hi Beth:
Great pictures of the hummingbirds(and all the other birds and animals. Great information to know about the hummingbirds. We just put out a heated birdbath outside but will need to wait a few days to see if it works as we are having a warm spell. Love your January themes. I am endlessly amazed at your daily posts and enjoy them immensely! Have a great week, Wanda

Mii Stitch said...

You've got some amazing bird pic! Makes a change of our blackbirds & sparrow & the odd (if we're lucky) robin!

Siobhán said...

More fantastic bird photos!! They're lovely. I hope it warms up a bit for you soon!

cucki said...

wow more cute cuteeee
love for you x

Giovanna said...

Fascinating... and gorgeous pictures, thanks for sharing.

Chris said...

Wow. I am surprised that the hummers are even around in the cold weather. Here in NC I put my feeders out April 1 and take them down Oct.1.

Ann at Beadlework. said...

The hummingbirds are so beautiful, they are such fragile little birds. The spots on the flickers almost look as though they've been painted on. The little crescent moon looks like a smile in the sky.

Pam in IL said...

Very interesting about the hummers. I always worry about the birds when it gets so cold.

Barb said...

I always love the hummingbird photos. My daughter does the same thing you do. She works hard to keep their food fresh and not frozen. They even have one that visits regularly and they have a name for that bird.

Nicola said...

Birds have to work so hard to survive in the winter it is good to do all we can to help them. We had to go out in the middle of the night a few days ago and when we came back we caught the owl we have been hearing swooping across the drive in our headlights.