Sunning or sunbathing is a very common behavior of a range of species of birds. We often find them lying down on a safe warm place under the sun with face down and the feathers of the tail and wings outstretched. Scientists are yet to know the exact cause present behind the habit and hence, several researches are going on it. However, there are a few theories at present, which can explain birds sunning behavior to some extent.
- Regulation of the body temperature is the most important reason lying behind this occurrence. Birds make use of the solar radiation for increasing their body temperature. As a result, they become able to stay warm even in winter without spending much food energy.
- Maintenance of plumage is another important reason for which birds opt for sunning. Keeping the health of the feathers up is vital for them, and sunbathing can really be helpful for this. The heat of the sun eliminates parasites from the feathers of birds. These small creatures otherwise could cause infection to their feathers, which eventually takes a toll on their flight mechanism, body insulation and emergence greatly. However, sunbathing can help them get out of this situation.
- The oil secreted from a gland present at the base of the tail of all birds is called “preening oil.” Sunning allows this oil to spread easily through their barbs, which is the major aim of preening or rearrangement of feathers. Moreover, the ultraviolet rays (UV rays) coming from the sun helps convert the chemical compounds present in this oil into the beneficial vitamin D.
Apart from all these, birds also bath in the sun for relaxation. It gives them a sense of comfort and joy.