Sunday, January 3, 2010
Cold Enough for You?
Some of the backyard gang
Our weather remains frigid with no relief in sight. Consequently, the small lake behind our house is almost completely frozen over, iced like a giant sheet cake with a white frosting of snow.
A large contingent of geese have made a home on the lake, with varying degrees of enthusiasm from neighbors. I enjoy seeing them and hearing the persistent honk-honk as they majestically fly over the house. But in fairness, they're not hanging out in my yard. Control of geese is an ongoing problem due to their destruction of vegetation and messy potty habits. In fact, Border Collies have become a key element in helping geese decide it's time to move along to another home.
No such effort (yet) has occurred here, so I continue to enjoy watching them, amazed as they stand on ice and swim in a small open area of literal ice water for hours and hours. It doesn't seem to bother them a bit. How do they do it?
According to the Geesepeace website, both geese and ducks have a special gland called the preen gland at the base of their tails where oil is produced to keep feathers water resistant. Under their outer feathers, they also have a downy layer that traps warm air against their skin and keeps the birds warm even in the coldest climate.
It's fascinating how "Mother Nature" provides. And with a forecast of more polar days to come, while dashing from car to building and back, I may soon be wishing for my own foolproof ability to stay warm!