How Sunshine Powers the Lives of Wildlife

Solar power is cool. Well, I guess technically it’s hot. Either way, the sun is not only involved with creating energy for us, but it plays a critical role in powering the lives of wildlife. Here are a few ways the sun affects the lives of animals!

Staying Warm

The core body temperature of cold-blooded animals (such as reptiles, amphibians and fish) is directly dependent on how hot or cold their environment. When the sun is out, their bodies soak up the heat, they warm up, and they become more active. When it’s cold, they tend to be a bit sluggish as their bodies slow down to conserve energy.  I’m jealous that these animals have a reason to sit out in the sun all day.

Collared Lizard by Sarah Waterworth

Keeping a Full Belly

Warm-blooded animals are able to regulate their own body temperature, which requires a great deal of energy. When warm-blooded species get cold, they must generate their own heat by converting food to energy. Maybe that’s why shoveling the snow-covered driveway makes me so hungry! Many animals rely on leaves, fruits and flowers as a primary food source, providing necessary energy. The sun is essential to the lives of those plants, and thus to the survival of plant eating wildlife.

Pika by Danny Nestor

Take Shelter

There are many species that live in trees or use plant material to build homes (such as nests or lodges). Trees and plants derive energy from the sun. Photosynthesis, boom. Therefore, the sun indirectly helps house a number of wildlife species!

Prothonotary Warbler by William Mangun

Follow the Big Yellow Thing

Modern GPS systems haven’t quite caught on with birds. Instead, researchers have found that some birds use their internal clocks in conjunction with the sun in order to navigate migration.

Starlings in Flight by Brad Smith

You Can Be Solar Powered, Too

The sun could be useful to humans as well. In addition to vitamin D that the sun provides, the sun can also be used to provide energy for everything we need in our homes and businesses. The sun provides a clean, renewable energy source that is much healthier for the planet than other fossil fuels.  Learn about NWF’s solar energy partner for the home at