One had raised his head because I had come near. Prior to this, both bird’s heads were down and although their eyes were open, they appeared unresponsive to anything around them.

I saw something unusual today.  I was eating lunch at a park when I looked over & saw two Noisy miners lying on the ground looking like something was dreadfully wrong with them.  I approached slowly talking, but neither birds reacted to me.   I was thinking – how do I get these birds to WIRES?  I had nothing suitable in which to hold them.

I was 1-metre away, leaning over them & making sounds to try to rouse them when they finally moved.  Actually, it was more like they became conscious of their environs.  Once that happened, they stood up, flew off & from a safe vantage point, proceeded to reprimand me for interrupting them.  I was left standing wondering what that was all about.

I posted a couple of photos on Twitter & BirdoftheyearWagtail responded with an article from Birdlife Australia that answered my questions.

A small excerpt –

Have you ever had the sinking feeling of finding a bird lying prostrate on the ground, apparently dead? You approach with trepidation, preparing for the worst, then suddenly, like a phoenix, the bird stands up and flies off.

Most people will have experienced the torpor induced by sitting in the warm sunshine. The experience seems to be similar for birds—to the point where they are often oblivious to human approach, and appear semi-conscious. Their wings are spread, tails fanned, and body feathers fluffed. Their heads may be tilted to one side, slightly raised or on the ground, and their beaks open. But these birds are not ill or distressed, they are merely engaging in what we call sunning.” ~

The article went on to consider reasons why birds sunbathe.  At the moment, these are all theories –

  • To kill parasites
  • Generate vitamin D from a bird’s preen oil.
  • Ease the discomfort associated with moulting.
  • Just for pleasure.

The article goes on to say that sunning places are in high demand & are used over & over again.

This proved to be true for the Noisy miner pair that I was observing.  They came back on numerous occasions to lie at exactly the same spot of playground surface.  Once they took their pose they appeared to go into a stupor.  It must feel blissful to have all that heat radiate through your body when you are as small as they are.

Eyes closed and terribly vulnerable in a children’s playground.