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Viking lake, Iowa

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chicken sized water bird (seemed to be fishing) body feathers were teal color with no pronounced tail. long redish brown neck. black crown would stand up at times. 3 inch dagger like bill that was black.  it used it's wings as a sun block sitting on dead trees looking into the water. 

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25 minutes ago, jcarscadden said:

I have seen an anhinga with its wings spread...my icon..but was told it was drying its wings after being in the water 

These are two completely different, and quite interesting, behaviors. 

Herons and egrets do this "canopy feeding" behavior when they kind of turn into an umbrella to help them fish. There are many theories, including creating shade to attract the fish while they are hunting, letting them better see their prey in the water (like wearing sunglasses), and to camouflage themselves so that the fish think they are just a dark mass (not a predator). A very good example of this behavior is the Black Heron: https://vimeo.com/303166907. Other herons do variations of this technique, including the confusing, outstreched-wing dance of the Reddish Egret and the bright yellow feet of Black Herons, Little Egrets, Snowy Egrets, etc. help attract their prey while they sometimes spread their wings in ambush.

Anhingas and cormorants, on the other hand, spread their wings due to their biological and behavioral needs. Since they do not have oil glands to keep their feathers waterproof like most birds do (they need to be able to dive into the water), they need to spread their wings to dry them and to absorb heat.

Of course, herons and egrets also sun themselves by exposing the undersides of their wings, too.




Edited by akandula
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