As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

How hummingbirds avoid overheating

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

16 December 2015 

· Colourful footage, shot with a thermal camera, has revealed how hummingbirds avoid overheating as they beat their wings up to 70 times per second.

· The birds have "windows" for heat loss, around their eyes, shoulder joints, feet and legs.

· This study, led by George Fox University in Oregon, US, is part of a Nasa-funded project to uncover the effects of climate change on the birds.

· Dissipating heat is complex in birds because feathers are such effective insulators.

· Lead researcher Dr Donald Powers said many nest birds formed bare "brood patches" when sitting on eggs, "so that the eggs are not insulated from their warm skin by the feathers".

· "We wanted to understand how hummingbirds, and birds in general, get rid of the extra heat."

· As bright white patches on the footage reveal, hummingbirds - and, researchers say, probably birds in general - have special areas around their eyes, shoulders, and legs that have low feather density.

· These serve as windows to rapidly dissipate heat during flight.

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