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Editorial Content     Laurinda     082 738 8011         ed.gbp @ greatbrakpost.co.za
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A Great Brak River and Surrounds Community Newspaper

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 Published by Targa Publishing all rights reserved - 2016 No content of this website or Tabloid may be reproduced in any form without the consent of the owners. CONTACT DETAILS Advertising Sales    Mike 	   	  044 620 4042      									  sales @ greatbrakpost.co.za Editorial Content     Laurinda   	  082 738 8011       									  ed.gbp @ greatbrakpost.co.za Article & Proofing	   Marianne	  	  072 025 0153      									  articles @ greatbrakpost.co.za

SUNBATHING BIRDS

By SALLY ADAM Photo by Darren Naish I spotted the first Black Saw-wing of the season on the farm in mid-August, a day before temperatures plummeted and we had some decent rain. Poor timing for a summer-loving migrant! They'll be looking forward to warmer weather, which leads me into this month's topic: birds who sunbathe. The phenomenon is quite wide-spread - over 170 species have been observed indulging, including owls, hornbills, doves, sparrows and even a Secretary bird, with long legs luxuriously stretched out behind it. Various hawk, eagle, vulture and condor species stand erect while facing the warmth of the sun; either holding their wings outstretched or standing with their wings drooped to the sides in a "delta- winged" posture. Herons can often be seen in the latter position as well. Cormorants, pelicans and others are well known for adopting spread-winged postures when they need to warm up, cool down, or dry their feathers. Small passerines (perching songbirds) will be found sunbathing on the hottest days. On surfaces as hot as 47°C and obviously heat-stressed with beaks gaping, it seems unlikely that the birds are doing this to warm their bodies. Sunbathing may help dislodge parasites, help to maintain feather condition (spreading preen oil throughout their plumage) or help ease the discomfort associated with molting.

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