Each living being must have a certain consistency in its body temperature and some have developed very specific means to achieve this. Many animals like reptiles are ectothermic, that is, they need an external heat input ( heating device ) to maintain their temperature because they are incapable of thermoregulation. Others are endothermic, meaning that they have certain mechanisms that allow them to regulate their body temperature themselves.
Have I ever mentioned to you how birds are utterly charming, intelligent, and of course exceptional animals? Well, they will prove it once again in the course of this text. Parrots have their own unique way of controlling their temperature. Unlike mammals, they do not have brown fat, but through a variety of behaviors and physiological mechanisms, they thermoregulate themselves. Your parrot’s normal body temperature is much higher than in mammals. It is between 39 ° and 42 ° C, with small birds having a higher body temperature than large ones. An important point to remember is that parrots do not tolerate high temperatures very well and that when the mercury reaches 46 ° C; this is fatal to them. It is especially important to know the temperature differences in which to keep a parrot (ideally 23 to 25 ° C ) and all the more so in cases where the bird in question is hospitalized and kept in an incubator. It is thus much easier to set the appropriate temperature at which it will be comfortable. Indeed, when a parrot is sick, it is necessary to warm its environment slightly, because its physiological mechanisms are disturbed and out of order by its health problem. So he will have difficulty thermoregulating himself.
So what are these wonderful abilities that parrots have to successfully regulate their body temperature? Let us first look at the plumage. In addition to being both shimmering and soft, the bird’s plumage serves both to evacuate and conserve heat. The so-called “outline” feathers (the ones you see when you look at the bird ) provide some insulation, but the down ( the tiny, soft white feathers camouflaged under the blanket feathers)) is the one who does most of the work. When they are cold, the birds will “puff up” their down to trap the air between their feathers, then they will start to tremble to produce heat. Another nifty aspect of our feathered buddy: he will manage to reduce heat loss by 12% by hiding his head in his feathers and by 40-50% by “sitting down” ( that is, by hiding his head in his feathers). pressing its abdomen and cloaca against the surface it is on ).
I would like to bring here an additional detail that I find very important: you have no doubt noticed that the swelling of the feathers and the camouflage of the head in them as well as the trembling can also be the first clues that a bird is not in its “bucket”. Along with certain other clinical signs (eg anorexia, half-closed eyes, lethargy, ataxia, and others), they may be indicators of health problems in your bird. It is always the responsibility of acting very quickly with a parrot showing such signs. When it is at this point, it is because your boyfriend is no longer able to hide from you that he is not well (I am referring you here to the book The behavioral tripolarity of the parrot.: the instinct of prey). A visit to the veterinarian is essential! If I could give you just one piece of advice, I would say: When the parrot looks bad, it’s always an emergency. Due to its small size, it is an animal that will see its general condition deteriorate at a lightning speed ( weight loss, dehydration ) when it is affected by a disease or when it suffers from a hemorrhage that is not taken care of. and processed.
I would like to introduce here the notion of a “state of shock”. Shock is defined as deficient tissue perfusion ( perfusion is the transport of fluids and oxygen through blood vessels to the blood capillaries while hydration is the presence of fluids in the interstitial space which is the space between cells) due to too slow blood flow or uneven distribution of blood flow. This leads to poor oxygenation of the tissues. There are several types of shock, but one that is often encountered is a hypovolemic shock. The most common cause of hypovolemic shock is bleeding. Hypovolemic shock is divided into three phases. Here again, the parrot stands out from small mammals, because it will enter the third and final phase of the shock ( the most serious obviously) when it has lost 60% of its intravascular blood volume compared to mammals which will enter this phase as soon as 40% of their intravascular volume is lost. Birds, therefore, tolerate blood loss much better than mammals. Exceptional did I say?
We have seen the mechanisms allowing the bird to retain its heat; let us now see those which allow its evacuation. Parrots do not have sweat glands and they must evacuate heat through their skin or through shunts ( abnormal communication between two parts of the cardiovascular system where different pressures prevail.) in their blood system. Let me explain: during times of stress, a large proportion of the blood from the left ventricle will be sent directly to the legs to increase heat loss. In some species with very long legs, the latter can receive up to three times as much blood as the pectoral muscles and twice as much as the brain, in a single heartbeat. In some aquatic birds and in wading birds, the popliteal artery forms a network of arteriovenous vessels at the level of the tibiotarsal which warms the cold blood returning from the extremities. How? ‘Or’ What? These small blood networks transfer heat from the warmer arteries to the veins which bring blood back from the extremities and which are cooler. This allows blood to flow through the paws without significant heat loss. This network is called the “admirable network”. Then, when they need to release heat, the birds will raise their wings to expose the wingless (featherless) areas below them. They can also pant ( birds will raise their wings to expose the wingless (non-feathered) areas below them. They can also pant ( birds will raise their wings to expose the wingless (non-feathered) areas below them. They can also pant (yes, like dogs! ). These two mechanisms allow heat removal by evaporation. Finally, when the bird is flying or running, there is some evaporation which will be done by the air sacs to allow more heat to dissipate.
When it comes to behavioral tricks birds adopt to conserve heat or dissipate it, we think more of wild birds. Some species will use small shelters, such as crevices in trees. You will also be able to observe in the small species, a band of merry fellows all “stuck” on each other. When it comes to cooling off, birds will bathe on hot days and seek out shady spots. These two aspects are also very important for keeping your parrot in captivity. A bird should never be placed in direct sunlight. There should always be a corner of shade in the cage so that he can take refuge there as he pleases when he has had enough of his sunbathing. In addition, a parrot should ideally “wash” every day. This is essential for maintaining beautiful, healthy plumage.
Now you will most certainly be able to recognize when your parrot is hot or cold. Thus, you will be ready to react to adapt to the situation, and the temperature will be an environmental condition of your bird’s life which will no longer make him… neither hot nor cold!