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Malachai Constant
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PostTue May 07, 2019 6:52 pm 
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Saw mergansers at the Issaquah Fish Hatchery yesterday different from the usual Mallards.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostThu May 09, 2019 2:08 pm 
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2 days in a row I've had some Steller's jays in the backyard doing this pose.  I've never seen it before.  Any ideas what they are doing?

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Gabep
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PostThu May 09, 2019 2:24 pm 
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It looks like they may be practicing something called anting.

https://feederwatch.org/blog/anting-blue-jays-taking-a-bath-or-preparing-dinner/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anting_(bird_activity)
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostThu May 09, 2019 4:16 pm 
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Cool thanks.  up.gif
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Mike Collins
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PostThu May 09, 2019 4:49 pm 
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Anting behavior has two expressions, active and passive. The link describes active anting behavior. The display the jay is showing with feathers splayed out looks more like passive anting behavior. I have seen the passive anting with crows on sunny days adjacent to thatch ant colonies. The wood pile likely has an ant colony somewhere nearby.
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostThu May 09, 2019 6:12 pm 
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Yes I would definitely describe it as passive.  Haven't noticed an ant colony but I'll look closer.
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Mike Collins
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PostThu May 09, 2019 10:58 pm 
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Do you have a bird bath nearby? Or a nearby spot where birds can get wet? It looks like anting but I have only seen anting immediately next to the ant colony where dozens of ants can crawl all over the bird. There just are much better places to find ants then in the middle of the lawn. The photo with the Steller jay's mouth agape leads me to think it may be engaged in temperature control by panting. Birds will also cool off by immersing themselves in water and then splaying out the feathers to dry. With the current hot weather the bird may have been forced to use this cooling mechanism. Here is an interesting article. You can scroll down to page 166 for the summary. https://rnd.edpsciences.org/articles/rnd/pdf/1970/06/ABABB_0003-388X_1970_10_hs2_ART0014.pdf
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostThu May 09, 2019 11:10 pm 
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I checked the woodpile, I didn't see any ant activity.  I actually wondered about heat regulation when I first saw it.  No bird bath, not sure about a source of water in the immediate vicinity, nothing I'm aware of.
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Mike Collins
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PostFri May 10, 2019 8:08 am 
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Did the bird exhibit this behavior later in the day? i.e. When it is hottest? It could have been seeking out the microclimate of the lawn for the cooling effect. When we walk on grass barefoot it feels cooler because it is. I have to side with the thermoregulation explanation for the posturing and mouth display seen in the photos.
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostFri May 10, 2019 11:30 am 
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Mid afternoon, it was definitely warm.
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Bootpathguy
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PostMon May 13, 2019 7:52 pm 
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First time I was a witness to this.

I was working on some outdoor deck stairs. A crushed rock & gravel path leads to the stairs. I watched a hummingbird, several times, and about 3 feet away from me, hover above the gravel and stick his long tongue down into, and between, the spaces & gaps of the crushed stones. It left and returned half dozen times or more. The entire back yard is blossomed out with rhododendrons and the neighbors yard with wisteria.

I assume it's mixing up it's diet with insects? Minerals?

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Anne Elk
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PostMon May 13, 2019 9:38 pm 
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They do eat small insects, but it could also be this (from wildbirdsonline.com):

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Female Anna's hummingbirds, which nest in Southeastern Arizona during the month of January, pick up tiny grains of grit and sand and eat them. Evidently, the purpose of this is to regain lost calcium that was used in forming eggshells.


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Bootpathguy
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PostMon May 13, 2019 9:41 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
They do eat small insects, but it could also be this (from wildbirdsonline.com):

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Female Anna's hummingbirds, which nest in Southeastern Arizona during the month of January, pick up tiny grains of grit and sand and eat them. Evidently, the purpose of this is to regain lost calcium that was used in forming eggshells.


Very interesting.

Thanks for the response

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Kascadia
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PostTue May 14, 2019 1:39 pm 
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Small insects and spiders form a large part of the hummingbird's diet.  They are also attracted to the sap releases created by sapsuckers on trees, due to the fact that insects are also attracted to them.  Hummingbird rescues will use overripe bananas in cages to attract insects for the birds to feed on.
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Mike Collins
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PostWed May 15, 2019 5:34 am 
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Here is some more helpful information. Click onto the Full Text for the entire article. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Des_Lauriers3/publication/262376608_Observations_of_Hummingbirds_Ingesting_Mineral-rich_Compounds/links/5a8a132fa6fdcc6b1a4251eb/Observations-of-Hummingbirds-Ingesting-Mineral-rich-Compounds.pdf
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