We have an earlier post on the Blue-throated Bee-eaters (Merops viridis) taking a sunbath. The bee-eater was lying on the ground with wings outstretched, tail feathers fanned out and bill wide open, panting.
Now, Mike Tan a.k.a. woof has provided us with a clear image of the bee-eater doing the same, with its head pointing upwards. It is sunbathing, one of many ways of keeping the feathers in top form. The bird is at the same time panting, to get rid of excess heat.
John Vickerman adds that the basic function of sun-exposure apparently lies in the beneficial effects of feather maintenance with the sun’s heat being directed mainly onto the spread wings and tail feathers. John’s research also suggests that sun-exposure increases the flow of preen-oil.
This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.