Thursday, June 13, 2013

Anhinga drying its wings


It is commonly thought that anhingas perch on logs or tree branches to air dry their wings because the oil produced by their preen gland is insufficient to make their feathers waterproof.  That has been shown to be an erroneous assumption. 

Because the structure of the anhinga's feathers decreases buoyancy, allowing them to sink underwater and chase fish, the feathers become waterlogged.  Once out of the water, the anhinga must dry their wings in order to function properly.

"We know now, however, that the degree of waterproofing of feathers is primarily due to their microscopic structure, not to their being oiled.  In addition to helping wing feathers to dry, other suggested functions for these postures [spread wings, perching] include regulating body temperature [...], realigning of feathers, forcing parasites into motion to ease their removal, and helping the perched bird to balance."

[The above from an article by Paul R. Ehrlich, et. al.]

Photo by Lois Anne.

15 comments:

Andy said...

Wow. This guy looks like he wanted you to take his picture.

Pierre BOYER said...

Interesting...
Best regards my friend...

Pierre

cieldequimper said...

Interesting. It also goes to show that we make progress in undestanding all the time :-).

And it's a beautifully detailed shot Lois Anne!

Olivier said...

c'est fou, au debut j'ai cru que c'etait une sculpture

llandudnopictures said...

Magnificent, wonderful capture.

Halcyon said...

What a cool shot! I almost thought this bird was a statue.

And thanks for teaching me something too! :)

Sharon said...

No matter the reason, those spread wings make a beautiful photograph.

Judy said...

Whatever reason for doing it, this posture makes for a very interesting picture.

gregory urbano said...

i always thought they were cooling themselves or something~!

Karl Demetz said...

Wonderful capture, Lowell!

RedPat said...

Showing off its body? Love those wee feet. ;-)

magiceye said...

That was very interesting.

JM said...

Fabulous capture! I've seen hundreds of these on my boat rides in the Amazon. Theis 'cousins', the Cormorants, which we have here do exactly the same.

Bibi said...

Posing pretty. I had never heard of an anhinga.

EG CameraGirl said...

Interesting information! Thanks. They certainly are interesting-looking birds. :) (I was gonna say "ugly" but didn't want to offend you.)

"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again." — Henri Cartier-Bresson