Friday, January 16, 2015

Do Ducks Get Cold Feet?

One of the things that I am so very thankful for
is the opportunity to observe nature on a daily basis.
I delight in the subtle daily changes in the world around me.

Each morning as I go about my chores, my first stop is at the duck pond.
Here I set out their day's worth of food.
This is the only thing that separates our ducks from those in the wild...
they do not have to find their own food.
And because they have lived their lives this way,
I will be responsible for feeding them their entire lives.
It's the one area in which they cannot fend for themselves.

What amazes me about these beautiful birds who call our pond home,
is their ability to adapt to whatever the weather might be...
continuing their daily routines through rain, snow, wind, heat, ice...
as if each day is the same.

I often see them sleeping on the ice and wonder if they mind the cold.
Do their little toes ache from contact with the ice?
Do they get frostbite?
Apparently they do not.

First of all, there are no muscles in their lower tissue
other than scales, bones and tendons.
What's special about ducks and some other birds is that the veins and arteries
in their legs form a net like structure...with veins and arteries lying in close proximity to each other.

The fact that the veins and arteries lie so close together allows for heat exchange between them.
The arteries supplying blood to the feet help to heat the blood as it returns from the feet through the veins back to the heart.
The cooler blood in the veins also helps to cool down the blood in the arteries as it flows towards the feet.
This causes the blood in the feet to be much cooler than the blood in the rest of the duck's body.
Because the feet are only slightly warmer than the ice, there is not much heat loss to the ice.

Have you ever noticed that ducks usually stand on the ice with only one foot at a time?
This serves to further decrease heat loss through the feet...reducing the amount of surface in contact with the ice to half.
The other foot is tucked up under the feathers... allowing it to warm.

As for the rest of the duck's body, it is kept warm by feathers and down which serve to trap
warmed air close to the duck's body.
Oil on the duck's feathers keeps the duck waterproof.

So, the reason that ducks' routines are the same all year long, no matter what the weather,
is due to the fact that they are perfectly adapted to withstand all types of weather.

I have said it before...
this world is amazing!
Every single inch of the natural world is filled with miraculous creatures.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow and see what our game cameras
caught this week as we take a Walk on the Wild Side!


  1. Thank you for the "ducks duck info" . . .
    I agree . . . little miracles for us to see every single day.
    I am amazed at being able to identify the male and the female of the birds.

  2. Very informative and true of birdsas well. I guess all kinds of feather and fowl. Have a wonderful weekend.hope we get some thawing.

  3. interesting I don't have to feel sorry for the poor things...Ann

  4. They say you learn something everyday! Yeah, I just had my duckie lesson. Love my Ducks, oops wrong ducks. I'm off to the Columbia Gorge for a girl's weekend. Let the fun begin! HUGS!

  5. Now I wish I was a duck. My feet are always cold. Great info.

  6. Sometimes it is so easy to take things for granted and not even take the time to appreciate the miracles. Thank you for today's lesson!

  7. Nature is amazing for sure and I am blessed to also live in an area valley that is full of nature as well ! My mum often said we should knit all birds some winter sock woolies lol I Yup tuff ducks indeed lol ! Thanks for sharing great post and photos ! Have a good weekend !

  8. Hi Bev,
    Thanks for the Duck lesson! I learned something new... The photos are just beautiful!


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