It is cold outside: -1 degrees Celsius, wind 14 km/h and snow from time to time. I was wondering why crows (maybe birds in general in Northern Europe) are calmly sitting in relatively windy places even though there are plenty of potentially warmer places to go to. (see picture at the bottom).

My first guess was that it isn't cold enough for them However, I couldn't find support for this online, so it's not possible to know for certain.

NB1: This is my first post - let me know if something is inappropriate. NB2: I am not a biologist, so please be patient.

I'd appreciate links/references where I could get information that gets closer to finding an answer to the given question.

Crows sitting on a treetop on a cold day.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd assume that they're staking out their territory most likely, or trying to attract a mate. Furthermore they might do this in order to experience the "bird-perspective", which could origin from either the fear of other predators, or the enhanced overview of the surroundings –– which could be vital for foraging $\endgroup$
    – Ebbinghaus
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


Birds (crows inclusive) have better heat conservation adaptations as compared to humans. Some of these are (but not limited to):

-Hollow tubes in feathers which provide insulation reducing heat loss.

-Reduction of appendage length especially in species that dwell in cold regions.

So conditions we perceive as cold are relatively warm for birds.

My first guess was that it isn't cold enough.

From this question on biology.se I can say it could be warm for them as it addresses birds surviving at -40C. Plus some of the answers and comments on the same question cover a couple of adaptations that birds exhibit to strive in such conditions.

edit: links that provide additional information on the same

-http://toughlittlebirds.com/2012/12/26/how-do-birds-keep-warm/ -https://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/arctic-and-anarctic-birds/how-do-birds-stay-warm -http://birding.about.com/od/birdingbasics/a/howbirdskeepwarm.htm -http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2013/02/19/how-do-birds-keep-warm-in-winter/

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    $\begingroup$ Also WRT to wind, birds have (obviously?) evolved aerodynamic streamlining, so would not experience as much heat loss from wind. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 18:50

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