Birds also have several clever strategies for keeping their unfeathered legs and feet from freezing. They often tuck these appendages close to their warm body while resting. And they have a super-effective blood-flow system in their legs, where the arteries delivering warm blood from the bird’s insulated body are nestled into a matrix of veins carrying cool blood back to the body. Heat is efficiently transferred from the warm arteries to the cool veins, reducing the energy required to keep the core of the bird nice and toasty. Birds’ feet do get quite cold, but they contain very little liquid, muscle, or nerve tissue, and the blood that does circulate through the feet moves fast enough to avoid freezing.
What can you do to offer a helping hand to our winter birds? Offering high-energy foods, plenty of clean, fresh water, and places for birds to shelter out of the wind and rain are all helpful. Make sure your windows are bird-safe and your kitty is also warm and cozy indoors!