Today I want to share some interesting facts about a few fascinating animals, and hope that in them you will remember that we too, are in the animal kingdom, and we too can stand against the winds that blow against us.
As you know, I love to sail, and therefore should love the wind, right? Well, I do BUT… when the winds come with warnings they are no fun any longer. The National Weather Service has created an array of wind warnings, watches and advisories to help all of us animals prepare for winds; they range from high wind warnings to hurricane force wind warning. There is even a scale used to measure wind speeds, I remember teaching this in 6th grade Science – The Beaufort Scale – again ranging from calm (zero mph) to hurricane (64 mph and over.)
Winds are bound to blow and we all will face them. Winds are scary, uncertain and can be dangerous. How do animals stand against them?
Outside of my window, on the lake below, I enjoy watching the variety of birds that make the lake their home, and our favorite has become the American Coot. These guys have been especially interesting to watch in high wind situations. I marvel how a 1-2 pound bird and stay it’s course and not be blown away in the heaviest of winds.
Take a look at what I mean. These guys are tough.
How do they not get blown away? How do they stay on course? They don’t have webbed feet like ducks, even tho’ they are related to ducks, just a different order.
The secret to their staying on course during high winds is found and seen in their feet. Check these puppies out.
Their feet have 2 – 3 long toes that are actually broad lobes, which are adept for land and water. They help them kick through water and their palmate toes fold back when they need to walk on land. Additionally, those odd toes are used to help them run on the surface of the water to get themselves airborne.
Lastly, their feet are used for fighting with other coots for territory, mates or food.
Built into the design of these animals is all they need to stay afloat and on course during the fiercest winds. Their weird feet, strong legs and even their internal wiring keeps them warm, on course, and strong for whatever Mother Nature brings their way.
Pretty cool, yeh?
But let’s look at other birds. Birds respond to high winds differently.
Some keep track of barometric pressure and postpone their migration. There are even some birds that fly exhaustively into the eye of the storm and keep pace with it until it dies down! Now, THAT’S strong and crazy!
Small birds, like chickadees and wrens, who don’t fly long distances will fly even less during high winds. Bluebirds and woodpeckers, who are cavity dwellers, will simply stay inside in the winds.
Solitary birds will shelter in the high grass and the perching birds have talons that lock onto branches. This lock mechanism is a reflex which requires no additional energy and so the bird can even sleep, locked on to the branch during a hurricane!
In crosswinds, while maintaining their flight speed, birds have the ability to keep their heads steady and pointing in the direction it is going. It then turns it’s body into the wind to offset the wind gusts blowing against it. All the while they are managing their steady head and body sail, they are flapping their wings at 14 flaps a second! Talk about stability??!!
Ornithologists tell us that there are 2 reasons birds survive high winds:
- location – they take advantage of their surroundings, habitat
- preparation – they are designed to survive in bad weather
Part of this preparation, or design genius is their “counter-current exchange”. This is the design in birds legs where heat is returned to its body and cold to its feet thereby allowing them to stand on cold ground and not get cold. This is just one of the unique features birds have to help them survive winds. What about feathers, eyes, wings?
Have you heard about the feral horses in North Carolina and how they survive the hurricanes there?
Do you know how sharks know to get out of the shallow water before a hurricane arrives?
Pick an animal. I challenge you to find one that has not been designed to survive and therefore stand in high winds.
It therefore follows, that we too as members of Kingdom Animalia have been designed to stand in high winds.
So please remember that, there are no crosswinds, no opposing winds, societal, political or media winds that blow against you that you have not been designed to withstand.
Your Creator designed you with everything that you need to not only survive the blowing winds against you but keep your head up, your course sure and your weird little feet on solid ground, or paddling through the deep waters.
Be strong, my friends. You were built for these times, to stand against the winds.
Cheers to you.