About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Why Chickadees Sunbathe

Hi!  my question is……why do the Chickadees in my garden go to a stone wall with a ledge, land and then spread their wings toward the sun??  This seems to be a group activity.  Thank you for your help!

Photo from: http://shelleypenne0.wix.com
Right now a group of baby birds with new plumage and in late summer adult birds that are growing new outer feathers, often sun themselves. Like ironing our clothes, the heat of the sun might help make it easier for birds to shape their new feathers. And along with easing discomfort associated with molting, the sun may also help dislodge parasites so the bird can preen them off more easily.

Some ways birds maintain feather quality is through water, dust, and sun bathing. Instinct to sunbathe is not always to warm the body. Like humans they probably enjoy a few rays but their main reasons for sunning is probably to keep their feathers in top shape.

Most birds have a preen gland or uropygial gland at the base of the tail. With their beak, birds realign the barbs correctly, remove any dirt or parasites and apply preen oil. If the bird sunbathes the oil is exposed to the ultraviolet light from the sun. Then the uropygial gland secretions convert to an active form of vitamin D which is ingested with the next preening. This may explain in part why some birds sunbathe.

Related Articles:

Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/w0U1M6
Dirt baths help birds stay clean http://bit.ly/rJR7Ex
Why birds molt http://bit.ly/rGaqRL
Why do bluebirds bathe more than cardinals? http://goo.gl/ZdYRS
Birds Don't Sweat: http://goo.gl/zerp7

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