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Winter torpor in a large bird

Nature volume 407, page 318 (21 September 2000) | Download Citation



Torpor is a natural state in which animals show a substantial and controlled reduction of body temperature to conserve energy1,2. A few small birds (weighing less than 80 g) are known to use it as a survival strategy in winter, but we have discovered that a large bird, the Australian tawny frogmouth, which weighs 500 g, can also enter this state. This surprising finding increases the size of birds known to use natural torpor by almost tenfold, suggesting that avian torpor is more widespread than is commonly believed, enabling birds to stay in their territory throughout the year.

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Author information


  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of New England , Armidale 2351, Australia

    • Gerhard Körtner
    • , R. Mark Brigham
    •  & Fritz Geiser
  2. *Permanent address: Department of Biology, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0A2, Canada

    • R. Mark Brigham


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Correspondence to Fritz Geiser.

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