Chickadee in Question
Can you tell me what this black-capped chickadee is doing? I've been told it's either cooling off or acting injured to distract predators from its fledglings. Do all birds do this?
—Pat Spargo, Birmingham, Alabama
George: This black-capped chickadee appears to be sunbathing. Many birds exhibit this behavior—it's believed the sun's heat may provide relief from parasites or from the discomfort of molting feathers. The birds also may benefit from absorbing heat (energy) into their bodies. Like this chickadee, sunbathing birds often strike unusual poses with their backs to the sun or their wings and tails spread and heads tilted toward the warm rays.