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Good Question ‘Reply All’: Birds, Colds & Calendars

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77674_Heather Brown WEB Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for Heather Brown to dig into the Good Question mailbag to answer some of your best queries. We start with a question many of you have written in this winter concerning.

Barb from Andover, Shelby from Bemidji, Mary Ellen from St. Peter wanted to know: “How do birds survive the frigid weather?”

According to Lori Naumann, with the nongame wildlife division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, most of them travel south. But, for the ones that stay, their bodies are used to the cold weather. Naumann says birds are good at hunkering down and finding protected spaces to escape the wind, snow and cold. They also use their feathers as a natural insulation to keep warm. Birds don’t have as many nerve endings in their feet or wings, so they aren’t as susceptible to the cold as humans.

Steve from Roberts asked: “Why are colds called colds?”

The term dates back to the 1300s and was defined as “discomfort caused by cold.” For many years, people thought you caught a cold virus because of the cold. But, in the 1950s and 1960s scientists determined colds weren’t brought on by the cold through research that required people to stand in cold rooms for hours. People might be more likely to get a cold this time of year because we stay inside, huddle up and spread our germs.

Alison from Bloomington wanted to know: “Why don’t all 12 months have the same amount of days?”

When the first calendars were created, the big issue was the moon cycled every 29.5 days, which doesn’t divide into the 365 and a quarter days each year. Early Romans created a calendar that would switch off the days each month to equalize the year. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar did away with linking the calendar to the moon, but kept the concept of twelve month divided into uneven days.

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