It has been hot, very hot! So why is this great blue heron (GBH) sunning?
At the time the photos here were taken (about 4:40 PM) the sun was still fairly high in the sky. The temperature was in the 90s. The rock the heron was standing on had been in the sun approximately 7 hours (had to be very warm!), and the sun was bouncing off the water’s surface like it was a giant suntan reflector. The heron was panting, it’s bill agape and its gular pouch vibrating.
Personally, I would seek shade in such a situation. But I’m not a heron.
I’ve never witnessed any other heron species posing in this manner, although I’ve seen photos of others doing so. Considering the large number of photos of GBHs photographed in this pose, it seems they are the species, at least in North America, most often observed behaving this way.
Perhaps the heron is attempting to rid itself of parasites, drying its wings, or even straightening the flight feathers. Maybe it’s all of the above. But, as I’ve said in the past on this blog, about this very subject, it may simply feel good to the heron. Apparently, some like it hot!