Bird Yawning?

We visited Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs, FL for a walk, some photography, and to talk to the people we know. Our recent move kept us from our usual activities, and it felt wonderful to be back in the woods. The temperatures remained cool all day in spite of the sun, so we didn’t see much wildlife. January in central Florida varies in temperature from very warm to quite cold, often in the same day.

We stood on the bridge near the parking lot that leads to the trails, observing this juvenile Black-crowned night heron. It stood so still as to be barely visible, still very brown though starting to get the black adult color. It occasionally moved its head very slightly, until suddenly the beak opened and it gave out a big yawn. Wait a minute, do birds yawn? I checked, and yes apparently birds do yawn, and for a similar reason as humans and other animals, to expel carbon dioxide and take in additional air. I read several reasons for this, but suspect as we had been observing this bird for some time that the period of inactivity triggered a need for more air in the lungs.

The bird went back to just sitting and we waited a few more minutes before leaving, pointing it out to a couple of people walking by looking for wildlife to point out to the children. It is always fun to see a child look into a tree and initially not see the bird against the similar background, then suddenly see it.

Note: The boardwalks around the Education Center at Brooker Creek Preserve are under construction. It is still possible to get to the Ed Center, but some areas are blocked. The signage is great and you won’t have any trouble finding your way.

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