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Posts Tagged ‘preening’

Birds seem to spend a lot of time grooming themselves and this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was no exception. I spotted it yesterday on a small island in the Potomac River, midway between Riverbend Park and Great Falls Park. I knew that Great Blue Herons had flexible necks, but I must admit that I had never before seen one contort itself into the position shown in the first photo below.

After it had adjusted its feathers, the heron stood for a while with its wings partially opened. The position looks really strange and I have been told that it is a way for herons to dissipate heat when the weather gets hot by allowing greater air circulation. In case you are curious, I took the second and third photos from exactly the same spot—for one of them I was standing and for the other I was crouching.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Great Egret (Ardea alba) showed great balance and flexibility as it meticulously preened its feathers on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. I would definitely need to see a chiropractor if I tried to imitate the position in the first image, assuming I did not completely fall over.

Great Egrets are relatively common in this park during the warmer months of the year, though they will soon depart for the winter. The Great Blue Herons, however, stay with us throughout the entire winter. I enjoy watching these large wading birds, never knowing when I will catch them in an unusual position or exhibiting an unusual behavior. The first shot is my clear favorite, because of the unusual body position, but I have included a couple of additional shots to show you various moments during the preening process.

 

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was looking across the water of a small pond at my local marsh, enjoying the beautiful early morning reflections, when a bright white flash zoomed across my field of view and stopped in the middle of the water.

Initially I had no clue about what it might be, but when I looked through my telephoto lens, I could see that it was a female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). I had never before seen a kingfisher perched so low to the water and it was pretty obvious that she was not fishing. As I watched from a distance, she went through what I assume is her morning routine, as she twisted and turned and fluffed up her feathers.

Before long, the kingfisher flew off to a higher perch in a more distant tree, where I suspect she busied herself with the task of catching some fish for her breakfast.

IMG_2587 crop webIMG_2519 Cropped web

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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