Birds Excel at Keeping Warm in Winter: Feathers, Oil, and a Counter-Current Heat Exchange System Are Key; Altering the Single Leg They Stand On, Flocking, and Roosting Close Together Also Help

Many of you might well be interested in a story posted on January 30, 2015 in Smithsonian Science. The story posed and answered the question of how tiny little birds manage to survive and stay warm during bitterly cold winter weather. The article was entitled, “Keeping Warm in Winter is for the Birds.” It was authored by John Gibbons, the Press Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution. Gibbons is also the media contact for the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) ( His story on birds coping with winter appeared, specifically, in Smithsonian Science’s Research News/Conservation Biology section. The entire story, along with some gorgeous images of different birds dealing with cold weather can be viewed at The Smithsonian Science site ( offers a continuously updated source of fascinating stories on a wide range science and biology topics. According to Smithsonian Science, John Gibbons has over ten years of experience in publicizing research and science. From giant panda babies to 3D scanning of museum collections, Gibbons has shared Smithsonian discoveries with the world. He is most happy when his passions for ornithology and journalism combine, making him the go-to man for the latest in Smithsonian bird research. Much of the most current Gibbons bird story is provided below. “You watch the weather forecast, gear up with hat, coat, scarf and gloves, but you still get cold after just a short time in the snow and wind. If it’s such a challenge for humans to stay warm outside, how do birds―especially the little delicate guys like chickadees and titmice―survive the single-digit temperatures and whipping winds of winter?
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