Somerset Ornithological Society - Bird News
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Blackbird Behaviour

Hi folks

We had our friendly Blackbird in the garden earlier, grubbing about as usual. He looked hot and spent a lot of time with his beak open which we can understand. However, he then hopped over into the bright sunshine, lay flat on the ground and stretched both wings out. He was there for quite a while so the theory of being hot is questionable I guess? We have water down for drinking and bathing so what is the purpose of his behaviour?


Re: Blackbird Behaviour

Some people believe that blackbirds stretch out on the grass so that insects can climb on to feed on mites. Or they could just be cooling off. I'm sure someone will let both of us know. I also see this often myself.

Re: Blackbird Behaviour

Hi Ian and Lee
I have a fledgling blackbird that does this sitting in my herbs, the general consensus of opinion if you search the net is it could be sunbathing given the glorious weather at present that would seem a definite possibility. the second option is something called anting where the bird will lay over ants spread its wings and get the ants to squirt formic acid this in turn kills off mites. This isn't unique to Blackbirds as quite a variety of birds do it. I hope that gives you some idea its not definitive but research from the net

Re: Blackbird Behaviour

Seen plenty of Blackbirds doing this, but had a Dunnock doing something very similar today, that was a first.

Re: Blackbird Behaviour

We have observed exactly the same behaviour - my wife was worried that the bird was injured but apparently not! Haven't seen any other species doing the same and it was a male bird only in our case.

Re: Blackbird Behaviour

This is usually a case of sunbathing in order to cause parasites to move around in the feathers making them easier to dislodge when they preen. The warmth can also help preen oil to spread out evenly across the plumage too.

Feral pigeons are great sun lovers too!

Re: Blackbird Behaviour

Hi Guys

Thanks for all the info. I'm a tad late replying (birthday this w/e so been enjoying the sunshine).

We've noticed the Female doing it now. I'm going with the parasite removal as every time they sunbathe it's followed by plenty of scratching and preening.

Cheers Ian