Why don't the birds come out when it is too hot?

Here is where we give you a more detailed explanation of why this procedure and guideline is in place below.  

On average, the birds in our collection run a regular body temperature of 101 degrees or above. Feathering and body structure do not allow birds to sweat, which is why you see them panting to release excess heat (much as a dog or cat will do when they get too warm).

If you were to watch birds in their natural habitat, even those local to this area and “used to sitting in the heat,” they will often sit in a shady spot and sleep the whole day through on extremely hot days, and may even choose not to hunt on those days. The inability to sweat, high body temperature, and an already accelerated heart rate means that raptors (and other birds) becoming stressed can be a life or death situation.

Being encouraged to exercise or fly in extreme temperature conditions, when they would normally avoid doing so in the wild, could lead to overheating and become dangerous for the bird. In addition, a vast majority of our flight collection are owls, birds that are naturally lazy and fly at nighttime when temperatures are lower. Several of this species are also found in colder climates and are not native to our humid, hot weather.

To keep our birds safe (after all, they’re the reason why we’re here!) we choose not to fly them when the heat index is 95 or above. Not only can flying them be dangerous, the birds will most often choose NOT to fly whether we ask them to or not. Our training using positive reinforcement means that the birds are always given a choice, and if the answer is no, we have to respect that and move along to something else.

The way we explain to kids is this: Imagine running a marathon at top speed in this kind of heat. Now imagine you’re doing so while wearing a winter coat and pants. That is how the birds would feel were we to “exercise” or “fly” them on such hot days. In addition to bird safety, we also keep in mind the health and well being of our staff, volunteers, and interns. When the weather reaches high temperatures, we encourage even our bird care staff to be inside as much as possible and drink water constantly.