This Morning Outside

Purple Finch Warming

Purple Finch

Fairfield, Iowa

Purple Finches never look cold. I don't know if the color of their coat keeps them warm. It certainly warms me to see them.

They have a few tricks to help them survive the intense cold of an Iowa winter. One is the remarkably insulative feathers, which make countless tiny pockets of air.

There's also the speedy metabolism, which burns far hotter than ours. About 104 degrees F. Sometimes as high as 110, which would cook our brains if we did that. But for the finches, it's fine. I don't see how their brains can withstand that feverish temperaturee, but I can see how it might help on a night of minus 20 degrees.

Food, of course, is another part of the secret. Purple finches and other birds who brave the "temperate" winter spend most of their day eating. Which is why I love to supply sunflower hearts and other sumptuous treats. Maybe it helps a Purple Finch make it through a cold night.

For sure it warms me to do it.

— Diane Porter, November 17, 2021