Staying cool

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Aldo cools off after being misted with water.

If we’re baking in the heat wave this week, the birds are feeling it, too. Feathers, so important for flight, act like a down jacket (literally!) even during the summer months.  Luckily the Museum’s raptor species are all native to Wisconsin and are built to manage the temperature extremes we see throughout the year.  In the heat, they can increase their breathing rate or take a bath to cool off.  They have bare skin exposed on their legs and feet, and can raise their feathers to allow air movement close to the skin.   While they can’t sweat like we do, they use evaporative cooling more like dogs by panting (“gular fluttering” is the bird-specific term).  We will also help our birds stay cool by installing fans outside the mew for air circulation or misting them with water.  It’s not uncommon for the handler to get misted, too, and on a day like today it’s probably on purpose!

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