Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunbathing Gila Woodpecker

One of our Hummingbird feeders is hanging right in front of the window above my desk. Talk about distraction! Verdins, House Finches, Hooded Orioles, Red Admirals, Gilded Flickers, and an occasional Costa's, Ana's or Black-chinned Hummer are constantly coming and going. I think in our hot and arid climate, the fluid is just as appreciated as the sugar.

Gila Woodpecker and Gilded Flicker

When the traffic is high, birds will wait for their turn on the cloth line right next to the feeder.
One young Gila male uses this time to bask in the sun. The wings spread open, contour feathers fluffed up, pupils dilated...

Just like mammals, birds are regulating their body temperature very efficiently by shivering and panting. (Swifts and Hummingbirds and probably many nestlings undergo periods of torpor during which their body temperature plummets). In addition to this autonomous thermoregulation, birds also use behavioral means to control their body temperature.

But today, even at 10 am it's already 84 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. So the guy is probably not cold. When I had a tame Jackdaw who loved to do his basking on my shoulder, I found him quite unresponsive to outside stimuli during basking, so wild birds are taking a considerable risque...

My Woodpecker sits still for not more than a couple of minutes, then flies off, but he's right back to turn his other side towards the sun.

Scientists have speculated that basking may drive out skin parasites, but I don't think anybody has the answer yet. My Jackdaw as well as this Gila Woodpecker leave me with the impression that this is pure ecstatic pleasure to good a reason as any, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful - an incredible amount of work.

    But I like your photographs the best.

    Also trying to do it all.

    Kyi May kaung