Pausing to enjoy the feel of the glorious summer sun on my face, I suddenly noticed that I wasn’t the only one enjoying the sunshine – a blackbird had decided it would indulge itself in a spot of sunbathing and had laid on the grass, spread out its wings and tail feathers, to gain maximum surface area coverage, and was basking in the warmth. Given the fact that it’s black (a colour that draws in the heat) I did wonder if it was feeling quite sane!
It turns out it was carrying out a spot of essential feather maintenance – sunbathing helps to distribute the bird’s natural oils across its feathers and the heat drives out parasites, drying them out and helping to rid the bird of these pests – and it’s not just blackbirds that do this, many other birds adopt this sun strategy too.
Birds aren’t the only sunworshippers around, reptilian types, such as lizards, turtles, terrapins, crocodiles and snakes depend on heat from the sun to warm up their cold blood. They need to start their day off with a sunburst of energy to really get them going.
How about a spot of lazing on the beach with your mates? Sea lions love getting together in groups to relax and soak up the sunshine – this warms up their bodies, raising blood temperature and improving circulation. Watch out though, there might be a bit of bickering going on about who gets to enjoy the best spots – anyone trying to muscle in on a favoured space might get a flipper in the face!
Don’t forget the sun lotion if you’re going out in the summer time – but hippos don’t need to worry about all that, because they handily have their very own natural sunscreen, which they exude from their skin to help protect them from burning – it’s a pinkish colour, so they can easily spot if they’ve missed a bit!
If you fancy a day by the sea in South Africa, then you’ll likely be sharing the sand with some African penguins, who simply adore catching some rays on the shore to warm themselves up before taking their next dip in the cool ocean. They will cheekily help themselves to the sunniest places available, including any free space on your beach towel!
The boxelder bug knows that a little bit of sunshine is good for you – it reckons it’s an aid to healthy living, because sunshine helps these bugs to produce chemicals that protect them from harmful germs on their bodies – a great UV detox!
If you have to forage for your food in the cooler depths of the ocean, it’s understandable that you’d be glad to warm up your bones in the sunshine afterwards and that’s exactly what the aptly named sunfish does. After some deep dive dinning, it rises to the surface where it brings its body temperature back up to temperature by basking in the sunlight on the surface of the water – a little after-dinner toasting!
Remember to wear your shades! That’s not a problem for polar bears, because they have specially adapted eyelids that act just like sunglasses, shielding their eyes from the glaring sunlight. Meerkats too have dark ringed pigmentation around their eyes to protect them from the bright light – cool look dudes!
A great way to prevent sunburn is to cover yourself all over in a good coating of mud and that’s what wise wallowers such as warthogs and pigs do – they use the mud to keep cool, block out the sunshine and stop themselves from getting burnt – mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!
It seems sunshine has many useful applications, but I reckon the very best thing about it is, the smile it puts on your face!