Friday, July 12, 2013

American Robin Sunning

A couple of years ago I blogged about a Great Crested Flycatcher enjoying either the sun (sunning) or ants (anting). On Wednesday at the Bass Ponds in Bloomington, Minnesota, at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I encountered this American Robin. I noticed no ants, so I assume this bird was sunning.

Birds sun even on hot days. Sunning may convert oil from the uropygial gland into Vitamin D, essential for birds’ health. Sunning may also dislodge feather parasites. Apparently the heated bird body causes the parasites to move, making it easier for the birds to rid themselves of these potentially harmful hitchhikers. If you look closely at these photos, you may notice what appears to be feather lice about midway up the red breast. 

Birds that have recently bathed may also dry themselves by sunning. Birds also seem to enjoy sunning. In the last photo, the robin has closed its nyctitating membrane—in ecstasy? Or was the bird just blinking?

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