Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunbathing Birds

I have observed many times how some birds, in particular blackbirds, often lie down in a spread-eagle fashion, and I wrote about it recently. On several occasions I have tried to capture it with my camera, but they have been too far away for getting a good enough shot. The other day I saw first a nuthatch and then a young greenfinch sunning in a spot much closer, so I grabbed my camera and got some rather good shots to exemplify this phenomenon.

I researched it and found that not even the experts are really sure what the birds are up to sometimes. It seems to be a field that needs exploring and studying much more. My small contribution is the two pictures below. I also include an extract from the British garden Birds web site.

Blackbirds and other thrushes often sunbathe, laid down and with wings outstretched. The sun is thought to straighten the birds feathers and help the preen oil to spread through the feathers. Some ornithologists have suggested that it may also draw parasites to the surface where the bird can remove them or that the ultraviolet light in the sunlight converts chemicals in the preen oil into Vitamin D. However, one could be forgiven for thinking that they simply enjoy it.
Additionally, some birds like Blackbirds, Starlings and Jays will adopt a sunbathing posture on an ants' nest, or even pick up ants in their bill and rub them on their feathers. Ornithologists believe the formic acid that the ants release may kill feather lice
 (British Garden Birds)

Sunbathing Nuthatch

Sunbathing Greenfinch (juv)


Protege said...

Very interesting and great pictures. I have seen birds taking dust baths, but never taking the sun.;)) Great post!;))

swenglishexpat said...

Protege - Thank you. Yeah, they are quite funny, our feathered friends.