More Queens Birding fun! Jamaica Bay and Alley Pond Park

Summer is in the air and the bird sightings are just amazing. Now that we’re hitting peak heat wave weather, I wonder how the birds are faring with this. Do birds even sweat?

According to Keith McGuinness, a faculty member of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences in Australia, they do not.

Birds do not have sweat glands, so must use other means to keep cool when the environment is hot. The three main ways they do this are by:

  1. Panting, as Ed suggested: in other words, breathing in and out rapidly. Some birds may pant up to 300 times per minute under some conditions.
  2. Regulating blood flow in their feet: bird’s legs and feet, because they lack feathers, are good sites for heat loss. By increasing the flow of blood to the skin of the legs and feet, birds can lose excess heat.
  3. Altering their behaviour: resting when it is hot and only becoming active when it becomes cool. This is, of course, a habit adopted by many animals in stressful environments.

Note: Playing catchup here, I actually saw these birds earlier last month in June.

We had gone to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the morning and then Alley Pond in the afternoon.

Alley Pond Park: if you thought Forest Park was huge, it pales in comparison to Alley Pond Park.

Some interesting Alley Pond Park Facts:

  • 2nd largest park in Queens. First place goes to Flushing Meadows Corona Park
  • Has many different types of ecosystems which is home to many unique forms of wildlife
  • “The tulip trees, oaks, and beeches in Alley Pond Park’s forest are some of the largest in the city.”

What I loved about this park was its sheer size. Like many large parks in NYC, it’s very hard to cover the whole swath of land in one day. We saw many different types of birds (or at least different to me) as well as fuzzy creatures. Cue Elmyra!

“I want to hug you and squeeze you into itty-bitty pieces!” (Photo from

One bird was very interesting in particular: the Spotted Towhee. Apparently if called, it will follow the source of the sound– which was pretty apparent when we walked some distance and encountered that same Towhee again (we also were followed by two elderly Korean ladies but that’s a different species and not one I meant to call)! I wonder if one would follow me home and what would it eat? Birdseed (the Towhee, not the Korean ladies)?

So yes, with the oncoming Summer season, will we see more birds? Will the author melt in the heat? Find out next time onnnnnnnnnnnnn Melbus Theater!



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