• Conservation
  • Education
  • Policy
  • Lands
  • Centers and Events
  • About Us
Close this search box.

Remarkable Bird Behaviors: Sunning and Anting

Remarkable Bird Behaviors: Sunning and Anting

(by Anita Fernandez)

The bird in the photo below may look dead, but it’s perfectly fine! It is “sunning” and exposing its preen gland to ultraviolet light for some vitamin D. The photographer, Dennis Skillman, watched it fly away a moment after he took the photos. Sunning may help birds rid themselves of parasites, as does another odd behavior called “anting.” When birds go anting, they crush ants in their bill and wipe the formic acid on their feathers.

A (perfectly alive) Tufted Titmouse sunning, photographed by Dennis Skillman.

Download this free article to see additional photos and read more about both of these amazing behaviors in the Summer 2022 issue of New Hampshire Bird Records online. There are lots of other great articles in the issue, including Ruby-throated Hummingbird Rescue, Stories of New Hampshire’s Nesting Kestrels, What to Watch for in Summer, and more. Subscribe and enjoy them all!