Birds that Swim in Cold Water

Birds that Swim in Cold Water - Ducks on Ice

Scientists have only recently come to understand many designs in nature. An interesting example is how birds that swim in cold water survive without hypothermia. The feet of ducks, gulls, loons, and geese show an example of incredible hidden design.

In these birds, arterial blood enters the leg and cools down. On its way to the heart, ventral blood picks up the heat released by the arterial blood in a process called “countercurrent heat exchange.” A mesh of arteries and veins called the “rete mirabile” (Latin for “wonderful net”) surrounds the blood vessels and amplifies the heat exchange. This arrangement limits the amount of heat the bird loses, saving it from having to use energy to reheat the blood. When you combine this discovery with the design that allows them to stand on one leg, you see how they are ideally suited to live in cold climates.

It is truly remarkable that virtually all climate zones have life forms perfectly designed to live in them. God created life to fill the whole earth regardless of climate conditions. Romans 1:20 says, “We can know there is a God through the things He had made.” Birds show the design of living things that radiates the wisdom and knowledge of the Creator. The foot design of birds that swim in cold water is just one great example of that.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: Audubon magazine winter 2023, page 52