Well, it is no secret that we here in the greater Ottawa area have been spoiled weather-wise this season. With scorching temperatures typically only seen during the summer months, this fall season is a treat to those who love the heat.
Despite the warmer-than-usual temperatures, a quick glance into the treetops above brings us all back to the reality that fall is definitely upon us and that winter is just around the corner. With that in mind, many of us have been busy keeping an eye on our feathered friends during one of our favourite birding seasons. With the summer storms brewing below us, we have seen some fairly odd behavior exhibited by our birds this year but if you look closely when it comes to our birds, not much has really changed.
For those that have already departed the Ottawa area, those that have returned only to depart again and those still awaiting their pending departure, there are a number of physical changes our backyard birds go through this time of year. In an effort to best prepare for their long journeys, here are three changes all migrational birds go through before embarking on their long trip south.
They Put on the Pounds
Well, figuratively speaking, of course. In reality, for most birds, the incremental weight gain during the fall season usually only results in a few ounces, if that much. But for some birds, that is quite the physiological change. As birds prepare for their flights, they can be seen eating for hours on end in an attempt to store as much protein and carbohydrates as possible.
Let’s face it, if you were leaving on a long road trip, you would make sure your car was properly serviced and ready to make the trip. That’s what the molting process does for birds. By generating new, aerodynamic feathers, our birds go through this sometimes-unsightly process to ensure they are properly equipped to take to the skies.
They Produce Additional Hemoglobin
The process of enabling additional oxygen to be delivered to their muscles, the production of hemoglobin is one of the most crucial things our birds do before migrating. Like an athlete heading into a fierce competition, our birds need every physical edge they can get to successfully reach their wintering grounds.