It’s cold outside and that means that we are bundling up in winter coats, wearing mittens and tightening face masks to keep ourselves warm. That’s all well and good for humans, but what about our winged friends out in nature? They can’t exactly shop the latest trends in fashion as easily as we can.
Everybody knows the birds that fly south for the winter (do you blame them?). Every fall we see that familiar V-formation in the air, with geese honking their way towards warmer winds. But what about those birds that stick around with us all winter long? How do they stay warm? Let’s look no further than our very own provincial bird: the Black-capped chickadee. Not only is it arguably the cutest bird in the province, it is also a master at surviving the winter.
Chickadees have been around long enough to know how cold it gets in the Maritimes, and they have learned exactly what to do to avoid those cold nights: shiver! Not exactly what you were expecting, huh? Shivering helps keep them warm on even the coldest of evenings. They shiver so much that they lose 10% of their body weight every night. All of this to wake up the next morning and start eating again! The birds need all of this food to build up enough energy to puff those little feathers up and shiver all through the night. Not too different from us over the holidays.
That’s not the only strategy that chickadees have to survive winter. They also grow an extra layer of warmer feathers to keep themselves warm while they hunt for food. This is why when you see our New Brunswick mascots in the winter, they seem extra puffy compared to their summer counterparts! We could all take a lesson out of the Black-capped chickadee's book this year. It has been a tough year for everybody, so why don’t we just enjoy some quality time with our families, eat and drink, and above all, stay warm, stay safe, and of course, look out for those adorable little puffballs called chickadees!
Michael Elliott has spent most of his life in and around Albert County. Now living in Sussex, NB, Michael is an avid birdwatcher, outdoorsman, golfer and nature enthusiast. He is a scout leader and hosts a web show, "Nature with Rusty," in which he shares his passion for nature with youth. He is currently working on his Masters in Arts and employed at Fundy National Park. This was reprinted from Friends of Fundy newsletter.