JAMES HARRIS, DVM
Temps rise in active birds
When my mealy and blue-front Amazons and I are cuddling, I will sometimes drop a kiss on their little beaks and find them hot to the touch. Sometimes their feet get hot, too. I haven't seen anything written on this phenomenon. Any ideas?
Birds have much higher temperatures than us mammals. While our body temperature hovers around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a bird's ranges from 104 to 112 degrees, depending on what it's doing. The more active the bird, the higher its body temperature. The faster metabolism, in fact, is what enables birds to fly - remember, chemical reactions speed up as the temperature increases. A bird can accelerate from perching to 30 to 60 miles per hour in a second or two. This takes a huge amount of energy and a bird's higher temperature helps make it happen. (By the way, it's not a good idea to kiss your bird on the beak. Human mouths contain bacteria that can make birds sick. You shouldn't bite off pieces of food for your bird, either.)
James Harris, DVM is owner and medical director of the Mayfair Veterinary Clinic in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. He founded Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and has served as medical director and chairman of the board for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley. Dr. Harris' numerous professional honors include California and National Bustad Companion Animal DVM Awards.
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