Questions for “One hummingbird survives cold nights by nearly freezing stiff”

black metaltail hummingbird

This bird, a black metaltail hummingbird, really knows how to chill out. To save energy at night, it can drop its body temperature to 3° Celsius (37° Fahrenheit).

Glenn Bartley/All Canada Photos/Alamy Stock Photo

To accompany “One hummingbird survives cold nights by nearly freezing stiff


Before Reading:

1.  What does endothermic mean? How do endothermic animals get the energy that fuels their actions and keeps their bodies warm?

2.  How do you think hummingbirds stay warm?

During Reading:

1.  What makes the black metaltail a record-holder? What is that record?

2.  How did Blair Wolf’s team measure the temperatures of hummingbirds?

3.  What is torpor and which of the studied birds used this strategy to deal with cold temperatures?

4.  How big an energy savings can torpor give a black metaltail, based on the story?

5.  As they leave torpor, how fast can hummingbirds rewarm their bodies?

After Reading:

1.  If black metaltails can cool to almost 37° Celsius overnight, does that make them warm blooded or cold blooded? Explain your reasoning.

2.  Many denizens of very cold regions use torpor or hibernation to manage their body temperatures. What is the difference between those two body adaptations to cold?

3. Pick another denizen of a very cold part of the world and explain how it deals with deep chill-downs at night or in winter.