Bird Surface to Volume Ratios

How I See It

The activity around bird feeders is very high during the winter. The birds are more challenged to keep their energy levels and internal temperatures high enough to survive. We are also challenged and are refilling the feeders more often. Why are those little birds so busy? Today, I offer you a simple science lesson to explain why they eat you out of house and home when it gets cold.

The smallest birds are the most active feeders. Little ones such as Fox sparrow and Chickadee are non-stop feeders. The activity level is less for birds with larger volume such as this Turkey. The big ones are more casual about their eating habits. It is an inverse relationship.

The behavior is related to the ratio of the surface area of the bird to the volume of the bird. The bigger birds have more of their mass and volume guarded internally from…

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