I contacted both of them yesterday to ask a question about a Common Grackle whom I encountered when I was in Central Park this past Sunday. He/she is featured in the image atop this entry. A few minutes after this lovely creature gave me the once over...
... he/she began to exhibit behavior (seen in the next series of pictures) that I thought was one of those fake an-injured-wing thing which is common in the avian community.
But I had never seen such a young one doing the fake-a-broken-wing thing and seeing this caused me to wonder if the creature was practicing this "technique" or learning it or imitating it. I did a fair amount of research in hopes of finding out if I could determine what might've been happening, but I could not find out ant information so I reached out to my cyber buddy Amanda Remsberg (bird rehabber extraordinaire) via Messenger stating:
I saw a Common Grackle in Central Park on Sunday and he/she was "walking" around the lawn but when this bird seemed to realize I was there, he/she seemed to the fake-an-injured-wing thing. Do you think this young bird was practicing this skill? Do young birds learn to do this early on + practice it? I can't find any research on the topic!
Here's a copy of our exchange:
AR: And he wasn’t injured? Lol. No never seen that behavior in grackles at all! Possible he might have been anting? They rub their wings on an ant pile to pick up the Formica acid that can repel mites.
ME: Hmmm. Maybe he was anting but he/she seemed to look at me (I included a copy of the photo directly below) and then do the wing bit. Maybe this young bird saw an older bird do the wing bit and is coping the behavior without knowing why? Then again maybe anting was the activity. It was a very hot day and sparrows were dust bathing in another location.
AR: Maybe he was flirting, such a cutie! Lol. Birds do a lot of odd things we are hard pressed to explain sometimes.
After AR's suggested that the bird I saw might've been anting, I did some more research and I reached out (via email( to Robert DeCandido PhD, a bird expert whom I've mentioned in prior posts here on Blogger.
Here's a copy of our exchange:
ME: I saw this Common Grackle (I included the third and fourth images seen in this posting) in on Sunday + at first I thought he/she was doing a pretend-to-have-broken-wing thing but it didn’t seem there was any danger around. Do you think the bird could have been anting?
DR. R: Hi Patricia - we see this behavior all the time: a bird sitting motionless in the sun on the ground usually with feathers spread ; the bird looks dazed but if approached rights itself and flys off just fine
The birds have parasites deep in their feathers. By spreading feathers in the sun they allow the heat to penetrate; the parasites do not like the heat and start to move around looking for a better spot; the bird preens them out...basically in an abbreviated explanation ...
That's it for today, dear reader, except to remind you that Common Grackles are featured in volume three of my book series, Words In Our Beak...