How do animals cope with colder weather? That was a question Bob Danley addressed this week on KLYQ's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal. The cold can cause hypothermia in humans with only a 3-degree drop in core body temperature. Lots of animals use hibernation as a reaction to colder conditions. He found three types of hibernation:

  • Facultative - when an animal is cold-stressed or runs out of food.
  • Obligate - the animal goes into hibernation even if food is available. It's just that time annually when they go to sleep.
  • Torpor - a mini-hibernation that lasts only a few days. Study is continuing on this condition, mainly found in birds.
  • Birds, like partridge and ptarmigan, burrow into the snow, others huddle together, either on open ground or in tree cavities.

    Plants apparently detect warmth, Bob reported, but how they do it is still under investigation. It might have something to do with how plants "see" infrared light. An interesting note - Lilacs need three weeks of cold in order to bloom in the spring.

    Bob's book of the week - "Wild Thoughts from Wild Places" by David Quammen, which includes an essay on coyotes and another on hibernating Barn Swallows. Bob;s report can be heard on KLYQ 1240 AM Thursday and Friday mornings between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

    Partridges in a ... Bitterroot field. (Bob Danley Photo)