Extreme Cold For Zoo Birds

House Finch in Snow ©WikiC

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;” (Job 12:7 NKJV)

The last few days, the northern states of the United States and Canada have been experiencing extreme cold temperatures. Watching the news today, our Manatees, here in Florida, are heading in to the warmer waterways. But how about the birds?

Checking articles about how the Zoos protect their avian wonders during this severe cold snap, there were several interesting things that are being done to protect the birds.

In Chicago, they actually closed the “Lincoln Park Zoo …closed at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and was to remain shut on Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to reach a daytime high of around 14 degrees below zero. Brookfield Zoo planed to close its doors Wednesday and Thursday.” [edited to make it past tense, written Jan 28, 2019]

“To ensure the safety of our animals and staff, the zoo will only have a skeleton crew on site who will provide basic core functions, including animal care and to check on the facilities,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, in a statement.

That zoo has closed just three other times in its 85-year history: Feb. 2, 2011, due to a snowstorm; and Sept. 14, 2018 and April 18, 2013, because of significant flooding.”

“Lincoln Park Zoo spokesperson Jillian Braun said the zoo has closed just one other time due to extreme weather in recent memory. ”

Chicago Zoos to Close in Anticipation of Extreme Cold

Swallows Keeping Warm in Cold and Snow ©WTTW

Another article by the same source “Shiver, Fluff and Cuddle: How Birds Keep Warm in the Winter

Even the Penguins in Canada aren’t too sure about this cold weather. See:

These Zoo Penguins Are Clearly Not Enjoying Canada’s Cold Winter

“The Calgary Zoo in Alberta had to bring its penguins inside after the weather dropped to -25 degrees below zero Celsius.

Calgary Zoo – Gentoo Penguins ©Inside Edition

The zoo’s 51 Gentoo penguins, Humboldt penguins, king penguins and rockhopper penguins, are usually brought in at some point every year.

“The keepers are able to call the penguins in and they have an instinct to want to be indoors when it gets that cold as well. We do this every winter when the temperature plummets to where it was a few days ago,” a zoo official told InsideEdition.com. “They are cold weather birds, but the temperatures were colder than they prefer.”

Another Zoo, Saskatoon zoo works to keep animals safe in extreme cold weather, says, “The species that might be tropical or from regions that never see minus temperatures have to come inside at the beginning of the winter season.”

Dunlins in Snow

The St. Louis Zoo in Missouri says, “On one of the coldest days in over 20 years, employees at the St. Louis Zoo are busy making sure animals are being cared for and protected from the dangerously cold weather….

“A lot of times you’ll see those animals adapted to cold weather actually being more active in the cooler weather than you would in the summer heat,” Anne Tieber, curator of birds. In the historic buildings that house the birds, monkeys, and reptiles, zookeepers keep the temperature around 70 degrees, with a little of humidly for the tropical plants and some animals.”

“One surprisingly warm place the zoo is the Penguin and Puffin Coast, the building is kept at a balmy 45 degrees year-round.  So, right now it seems incredibly warm to the 7 degrees outside but flips to feeling cold in the summer.”

Enjoy these articles, plus a few more that tell how the wild birds also survive these extreme cold days and nights.

Chicago Zoos to Close in Anticipation of Extreme Cold

Shiver, Fluff and Cuddle: How Birds Keep Warm in the Winter

These Zoo Penguins Are Clearly Not Enjoying Canada’s Cold Winter

Saskatoon zoo works to keep animals safe in extreme cold weather

St. Louis Zoo in Missouri



Keeping Warm in Winter is for the Birds

Do Animals Hate the Bitter Cold?

How Does Extreme Winter Weather Affect Wildlife?

How Canada’s zoos protect their animals from the bitter cold

Wordless Birds


When I Consider! – Couch’s Spadefoot Toad

When I Consider!

When I Consider!

Evidence From Biology – January 6

The Couch’s spadefoot toad of the Sonoran Desert is an example of how God takes care of creatures under extreme conditions. This toad lies dormant in the hot desert eleven out of twelve months each year. It has built-in sensors that tell it when a violent desert rainstorm occurs. The toad can detect vibrations of pounding rain miles away. It somehow knows to emerge from the sand when it rains so that the male toads can call for females as soon as pools of water form. Shortly afterwards the egg-laying is completed and the toads return to the sand, safe from the heat of the burning daytime sun. Most of the time the desert pools rapidly dry up, killing the eggs. Only under ideal conditions will some of the eggs hatch nine days later. The young toads have at most a few weeks to eat enough food to survive before burying themselves in the sand for the next eleven months while awaiting the another rainstorm.

Couch's Spadefoot Toad

Couch's Spadefoot Toad

Such survival instincts and mechanisms were probably not required before the Fall, when the world was designed as a paradise. In the current world, with its severe climates, such instincts and abilities seem to have been specifically designed for animals such as the spadefoot toad. How could this ability to adjust to such harsh weather conditions have evolved? Unless all of the abilities, instincts, and timing of the toads’ reproductive cycle were in place, the toads could never have survived the first severe season.

The wild animals honor me…because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland… (Isaiah 43:20)

From A Closer Look at the Evidence, by the Kleiss’

(Typed by Phyllis)

From Wikipedia:
The Couch’s Spadefoot Toad, (Scaphiopus couchii) is a species of North American spadefoot toad native to the southwestern United States and the Baja region of Mexico. The epithet couchii is in honor of American naturalist Darius Nash Couch, who collected the first specimen while on a personal expedition to northern Mexico to collect plant, mineral and animal specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.[1]

These toads can be found throughout the Sonoran Desert, including Arizona. How can you tell the species? True toads have horizontal pupils but the spadefoots have vertical pupils (like cats). Look at the sole of a hind foot. There you’ll find the hard, dark “spade” that gives a spadefoot its name. There are only two spadefoot species in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and California. If the space is sickleshaped, it’s Couch’s spadefoot, Scaphiopus couchi. If the spade is rounded, it’s the western spadefoot, Scaphiopus hammondii(called the southern spadefoot, Scaphiopus multiplicatus, in some field guides).

Spadefoot Foot by Thomas Eimermacher

Spadefoot Foot by Thomas Eimermacher

Incidentally, the spades really are digging tools–spadefoots use them to burrow backward into the soil.

Once you’ve finished checking the animal, gently put it down where you caught it–it has important things to do–then wash your hands thoroughly in the water. Amphibian skin secretions can be quite toxic; they probably won’t affect your hands, but you won’t want to get them in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Spadefoots live for the monsoon. They spend the rest of the year underground awaiting their wake-up call: the drumming of raindrops on the soil during a summer thunderstorm. As soon as the males dig out they go looking for rain pools, and when they find them they broadcast the news loudly as they can. The chorus draws silent female spadefoots from far and wide.

Mating is an urgent matter for spadefoots. Their tadpoles must hatch, grow, and change into toadlets before the pool evaporates in the summer sun. That’s why they do most of their mating the first night the pool forms. Couch’s spadefoot toadlets sometimes leave the puddle only nine days after the eggs are laid! Western spadefoots take longer–at least three weeks.

The warmth of the water speeds up the tadpoles’ growth. Meanwhile they devour everything even remotely edible. They scrape algae off rocks. They filter microorganisms from the water as they pump it over their gills. They gather in wriggling masses, stir up the muck on the bottom of the pond, and filter that. And unlike most tadpoles, which are exclusively herbivores and filter-feeders, spadefoot tadpoles are omnivores. They also eat dead insects and tadpoles, and” more.

See Also:

Couch’s Spadefoot

Couch’s Spadefoot Toad by LA Zoo