It’s -13 F right now, and with a moderate wind blowing, the wind chill makes it -36 F. That’s too cold for me, but not too cold for the hungry birds and squirrels in the backyard to come into the bird feeders for a meal.
Basking to gain what little radiant heat the sun provides at this time of year can be effective in warming up, but wind currents that penetrate fur and feathers carry that precious heat away. What can a small animal do to cope with this intense winter cold? Activity helps, as muscles generate heat, but that comes at a cost to be repaid by eating more. Shivering helps, and when animals are not active, muscles engage in isometric tremors that generate heat, which is also expensive, but not as much as flying or running across the snow and climbing trees. The only animals that seem unperturbed by this weather are the feisty little red squirrels.