While most of us have seen birds splashing in water to find relief during hot weather, other cooling techniques are available to them. Lifting or spreading their wings, allowing the flow of air across unfeathered or less-feathered body parts, also helps to dissipate the heat of summer.
Because I’ve usually been at work and without a camera at hand when I’ve seen great blue herons engaging in the behavior, I was especially pleased to find this pied-billed grebe with raised wings at the Brazoria Wildflife Refuge near the end of July.
Despite their reputation for being a bit skittish and camera-shy, this grebe continued its behavior for nearly fifteen minutes. Raising and lowering its wings in a slow, repetitive pattern allowed body heat to escape, and keeping its wings raised for as much as a minute at a time might have caught a bit of breeze as well.