We’ve written about how the world around us changes during the winter, but that’s not the only thing that changes; throughout the animal kingdom, birds and beasts that live in colder climates have special adaptations to help them survive the winter’s harsh weather.
The animals in some of these photos may look like they’re freezing, but that’s not 100% certain – in most cases, the photographers are probably colder than the animals that they’ve photographed. Mammals like foxes, cats and other furred critters have to maintain constant body temperatures, so they often accrue stores of body fat and grow additional coats of winter fur to help themselves cope with the cold. These winter coats create an extra layer of insulating air between their skin and the cold air outside, and sometimes even grow in white to help them camouflage themselves in their new environment. Anyone with a breed of dog that has adapted to the cold, like a husky, knows how hairy things can get when they start shedding their winter coats.
Birds also grow additional winter feathers, and these too can grow in white, especially among larger primarily carnivorous birds like owls. Some birds are not as well adapted to the cold as others, however – a common sparrow may burn 10% of its body weight during an especially cold winter night, so any food or sheltered roosting spaces you might want to provide them with the next day would probably be much appreciated!