I couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at when I came across this female Blackbird (Turdus merula) sunning itself in the heat of the day back in the July of 2013. As you can see in the photos it has its wings and tail splayed, and back feathers ruffled.
It is quite interesting to observe this unusual behaviour which is known as sunning, and apparently the birds looks directly into the sun with one eye. Others species of bird have been observed sunning, but not as much as the Blackbird. It is not known why birds do this, but it is maybe a way of maintaining their plumage, regulating temperature, or just for the pure joy of it! It seemed so preoccupied in its sunbathing that I was able to get fairly close to it before it flew off, and returned to exactly the same spot not long after. Later I saw it sunning again by a tree stump.
Just to note I did wonder whether it was anting at first, but I saw no ants at all in the vicinity where the Blackbird was sunning, so I ruled this out. I also wondered whether it was going to dust its feathers, but it didn’t. It just lay still there in the full glare of the midday sun apparently just chilling – or cooking!
Photographs of Blackbird (Turdus merula), taken July 2013, Warley Woods, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.