Panting, seeking shade affect food foraging
WASHINGTON — In the short-term, ways to beat the heat are cool. But for desert birds, even simple panting or flying into the shade have some sneaky long-term costs.
When male southern yellow-billed hornbills pant, they’re less able to snap up food, Susan Cunningham reported August 18 at the North American Ornithological Conference. The hornbills are the third bird species that Cunningham, of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and various colleagues have shown face hidden costs of trying not to overheat.
Birds certainly have ways to ease the immediate dangers of heat. But determining the full consequences of all those small accommodations becomes more urgent as the climate changes.
Yellow-billed hornbills (Tockus leucomelas) could be especially vulnerable to hidden costs of heat because males become the sole provisioners of their families during breeding season. A female walls herself and her eggs into a cavity (or a