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Birds like cool trees when it’s hot

By Gary Bogue
Monday, July 17th, 2006 at 12:45 pm in Hot Weather, wild birds.

Sunday, it was so hot where I live in Benicia that the songbirds in my backyard, except for a feisty male Anna’s hummingbird that isn’t bothered by anything, spent most of the day chirping and flitting around inside the little cluster of three 40-foot redwoods in a corner on the yard. I say "inside" the redwoods because the branches create a big green room in the space between their trunks when you slip under them.

I was curious if the redwood room was actually cooler than the rest of my yard, so I slipped out the back door about 2 p.m. to take a look for myself. I brought along a thermometer to check the temp and laid it on one of the branches that was waving around in the room. It certainly felt a little cooler, and after about 5 minutes the thermometer told me why. It was six degrees cooler inside the redwood room than it was outside the trees.

People are always asking me where wild animals go when it gets too hot. Well, here’s one of the spots. Trees. They get up close to the trunks of trees so they can take advantage of the insulating qualities of the green branches.

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6 Responses to “Birds like cool trees when it’s hot”

  1. Sara Johnson Says:

    Gary, I liked your story about the redwood room in your yard and I think I have the
    answer to the temperature difference. From growing orchids and other plants with
    succulent leaves, I know that the leaves will absorb heat from the air – bad for the
    leaf perhaps but better for the air space immediately surrounding the leaf. If you
    get enough of these leaves (needles) together they can drop the temperature
    enough for you to notice the difference. Sort of like a miniature swamp cooler.
    And then there is always the shade and that helps, too.

    Like your column lots,

    Sara Johnson

  2. Annette Says:

    I no longer live in the bay area, but instead overlook the El Dorado National Forest. It is pretty cool to be driving down the canyon road to get to my house, and at the bottom of the hill see a doe sitting in the shade of a tree on the other side of Antelope Creek. I also enjoy the antics of quite a community of hummers that buzz arround the feeder, and the Steller’s Jays that fly around “inside” the pines, cedars, and madrones that cover our property. It certainly is heaven up here….except when I forget to bring in the hummingbird feeder, and my dog wakes me up at 2:00 am barking at the raiding raccoon.

  3. Gary Says:

    Better a raccoon than a black bear! /Gary

  4. June Zaloumis Says:

    Hi Gary,

    I have a morning dove nesting in my back yard in a planter. I have fake ivory around so it can have some shade. I don’t think that is enough. It is 116 out there right now and yesterday it was 120. What can I do to make her/him cooler? The dove(s)come back every year all summer now for 3 years, but this is the hottest it has ever been. Please help!

  5. Annette Says:

    Thankfully the deck is about 15 feet off the ground, so we don’t have to worry too much about the bears from that respect. The neighbor’s dog did get into it with what sounded like a yearling bear in the spring. I’m not too sure who got the worst of it. This dog supposedly also killed a mountain lion, and has the dear no longer going through his yard. All I can say is I am glad the dog seems to know the yards boundaries and doesn’t stray down into ours. My two have adapted fairly well to the new digs, but do miss having a fenced yard to go play in. Missy has gotten out the door a couple of times, but has only once failed to return on command. She was having too much fun playing in the snow that day.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Gary,
    I no longer live in Concord, but am in Paso Robles. I still miss your column but catch it occassionally on line. Even though your column is about wildlife, I had to share a great book with you called “Marley & Me” by John Grogan. Although I am happy Marley was not in my household, I am glad he found a great home with the Grogan family. I know you will enjoy it if you haven’t read it.
    Shirley Sevastacis

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