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One of my favorite local birding spots is a stretch of the Delaware River behind the Philadelphia Airport. From a clearing on the vegetated shoreline, I scan through an assortment of gulls, terns and shorebirds over the water. Upland birds enjoy the space, too.
One day I was absorbed in watching a Northern Mockingbird that landed on the decommissioned railway track beside me. Almost immediately she opened her wings, making her appear bigger. She tilted her wings backwards to expose as much as possible, of the bold white bars on the upper and underside wings.
This wing-flashing behavior (depicted below), while on the ground, is a common trait amongst mockingbirds. Actually, a number of birds do this. The flashing of wings may be a technique to flush insects, ward off predators, or defend its territory.
While scientists continue to study this interesting behavior, I enjoy watching this animated mockingbird!
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