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Was this bird playing dead or injured ? (1 Viewer)

Groovy Grackle

Active member
During a casual walk around in my yard today ( with my binoculars) I saw something I have never seen a bird do before and not sure why it did this.
Was watching some small birds like Chikadees,Carolina Wrens and Purple Finches fluttering around in a thicket full of twisting vines. Shortly after a while I noticed just beyond in a clearing a mockingbird that looked dead...looking through my binoculars I could see it's feathers sticking out and wings spread. I could see it was almost laying on it's back like dead or injured !

My heart sunk because I assumed a cat probably killed it..but to my surprise as I made some noise in the trees it hopped upright quickly and flew away rapidly in perfect condition and health!

I did notice there was a patch of sun there...was it sunning ? Do some bird species play dead sometimes...I am puzzled! lol

Has anyone witnessed this type of odd behavior in birds?
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KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
United States
It might have been "anting" Where birds spread their wings out letting ants attach themselves to their feathers. You might want to do a google search on "anting" to explain more. Below is a list of birds that commonly use this technique. Mockingbird is one of them.

20 common birds that ant
Ruffed Grouse
Wild Turkey
Great Horned Owl
Northern Flicker
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Mockingbird
Gray Catbird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
House Sparrow
American Crow
Common Raven

Groovy Grackle

Active member
That is interesting...I never considered anting! There has been some scattered rain here lately that had stirred up the ants..so it makes perfect sense! That is a smart way to get easy food.
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