Tag Archives: how birds stay cool in summer heat

Whether or Not to Keep Your Mouth Shut in the Arizona Heat

We’ve had a crazy hot, hot, hot week in Arizona this past week–to the tune of 118 degrees at times.

The streets and sidewalks are so hot, our miniature Doberman Pinscher can’t go for a walk unless she wears booties. And because trying to outfit her paws with neon green silicon booties this week was an abysmal exercise in futility—akin to shoving glass slippers on my ugliest stepsister’s feet—the dog hasn’t been out in the neighborhood all week long. I wonder if her new affection for pooping in our bedroom closet is a subliminal message… You torture me? I torture you.

I’ve noticed the birds in the backyard have been passing time on top of the concrete brick walls that fence in our yard. Why on earth do they stand on the wall, I wonder, instead of the cooler grass? (Okay, half the lawn is the equivalent of dry hay, but still, it’s gotta be cooler than bricks, no?)

The birds look parched. Their beaks hang open all the time. They remind me of me when I was a kid. I used to drive my mother nuts. “Susan, close your mouth! For Pete’s sake, are you trying to catch flies?” (For the record, I wasn’t trying to catch flies. I don’t care much for flies, really. The argument of “you never know where they’ve been”–hint, hint, like on a shiny pile of dog poop–resonated with me. I mostly NEVER wanted to catch flies.)

Really, I had no reason to hang my mouth open other than it just seemed natural to do so. In my mother’s defense, I’m quite sure I looked dopey. She was probably trying to spare me the embarrassment of ‘seeming’ dopey. (I was in fact a bit of a daydreamer—dopey… but in ‘cute’ way, I like to think.)

The birds in my yard look dopey this week. Since I have a soft spot for dopey, I empathize with them. I assume they’ve got a perfectly good reason for hanging their mouths open. Probably comes natural to them to do so. I’m figuring it’s something to do with keeping themselves ventilated in the mega-heat, like maybe they’re pulling off some kind of swamp cooler thang. Ya know, like channeling incoming air through a moist mouth instead of a dry nostril. I don’t know. I only lived in the South for a couple of years. Before then, I never heard of swamp coolers. Never heard of hanging wet towels over open windows to cool the incoming air, either. Such a sheltered life I’ve lived.

Birds don’t have towels. For that matter, they don’t have windows either, so I’m thinking swamp cooler thang is their angle. What I do know from careful observation is that, like me, the birds don’t seem to be trying to catch flies. Plenty of flies buzz by, but the birds give a shrug, Meh… not interested. You never know where those flies have been! A person or creature need not be told twice. On any palate, flies with sticky poop feet is just gross… except if you’re a dog. Apparently, poop and flies are good eatin’ for a dog. Which explains why I cringe every time my adorable min-pin insists on licking my face. Ah, the things we do for love.

Speaking of love, we went out to dinner last night. It was too dang hot to stick with Plan A: grilling chicken out on the barbecue. While walking back to our car from the restaurant, we heard a woman screeching at a man in a car. Judging from her tone and carefully chosen words of advice, the man was her husband–poor dear. “Well, then, turn on the f#*king air conditioner, you idiot!” she shouted. He must not have heard her, because she repeated her suggestion over and over again until he and anyone within a mile-long earshot without doubt could.

I know he took her empathetic words of love to heart, because after she went back into the restaurant, he got out of the car and leaned back up against it. There he stood in the sweltering Arizona heat, looking dejected—baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, shoulders slumped, mouth hanging open. In all honesty, he looked kinda dopey. One of my people,  I thought, immediately feeling for this dopey fellow. I wanted to warn him about the flies that had sticky poop feet. Maybe nobody ever told him. More than that, I thought, Wow, what a sad soul. I’d be hiding in the car after a verbal beating like that.

But then it hit me. Clearly, this somewhat dopey-looking, dejected man had a perfectly good reason for standing outside, for drawing more attention to himself than had already been drawn—a perfectly good reason for standing out there, his mouth hanging open, for all who witnessed her wrath to see. His dejected dopiness was, in fact, brilliant! Masterful! The more he brought attention to himself, the more I reflected on what a nasty woman she was. His defiance—wrapped in a sad-looking package, presented in a public setting—sent a subliminal message that screamed, You poop on me? I poop on you. And good on him for doing so. Because if there were any creature in all of history who truly needed to shut its mouth, I think it was her.

So, no, things haven’t been entirely normal this week in the crazy heat of Arizona. Today, though, we get some relief. The forecast is for 110 degrees. I, for one, will be looking forward to things cooling down somewhat and getting back to normal.

With the dog days of this week behind us, we’ll ALL be back to keeping our mouths shut, which, overall, will probably be a good thing.

Stay cool, folks!

THIS is how we’ve been keeping cool. It’s 6-ft wide and 2-ft deep, but it does the trick! And, hey, this week it turned into the HOT TUB we never had!

Love,