Saturday, September 8, 2007
Panting in the heat
I took off my hat to wipe my forehead. I could feel the trickle of sweat slide down my neck. I love the heat, but 112F was even too much for me. I had decided to take a walk on the interpretive trail in the early part of the day, knowing that it would be brutal in the afternoon sun. As I walked along the path I looked for movement in the Mesquite and Cottonwood trees. There were Verdin fledglings flitting in the trees and Wilson’s Warblers beside the river. A Roadrunner dashed out to snatch a butterfly. I saw a covey of Gambel’s Quail poking along the shrub line. As I continued along the 2.5 mile path, the heat began to build and I realized that I had not brought any water. Rats. I decided to turn back.
I was not birding on the way back but striding along. I was hot, sweaty and thirsty. It was only 10 in the morning and already the sun was beating down. I had been out about an hour. I was thinking about a nice cold glass of water and a shower. I approached a shady spot and stopped to fan myself with my hat. In the tree was a Great-tailed Grackle that appeared to be panting. It’s beak was open. A hummingbird zipped past and landed in the shade of the tree too. It was also beak agape and its tongue was hanging out. Interesting, I never knew that birds could pant; or would pant. On the mountain, we do not have sweltering hot days.
In the 4 days I was in the desert, by the afternoon, most of the birds I saw were all panting. I saw this in small passerines, a Roadrunner, woodpeckers, as well as a kestrel perched on the logs outside my balcony. Have you seen this?