Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Black-faced Lourie, also known as the Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Corythaixoides personatus, photographed lying motionless in the afternoon sun in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, 17 January 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D300, 200-400 VR lens at 240 mm, ISO 500, f/8 1/1250 sec.

As an added bonus, can you tell me what this bird is doing and why?

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 Bardiac
    April 25, 2010

    I’m clueless, but I wanted to say that this is an amazing image!

    The sunning thing seems totally weird. I’m wondering if it’s keeping eggs from getting too hot or something? But that seems like a poor place to have eggs for a bird that distinctively colored.

  2. #2 blf
    April 25, 2010

    Confused ostrich chick. It’s the head that goes in the sand…

  3. #3 Jana
    April 25, 2010

    My two guesses would be anting, or some kind of breeding display. Crazy looking bird!

  4. #4 carel
    April 25, 2010

    Shameless liars should leave the room.

  5. #5 Richard Simons
    April 25, 2010

    It looks to me like some kind of lourie that is anting – encouraging ants to egt on board to pick off parasites, loose bits of skin, etc.

  6. #6 Beto
    April 25, 2010

    Lol @ 4! It’s a Bare-faced Go-Away-Bird, Coythaixoides personatus. It has a white breast and cheek, bare black face, a gray crest, and the gray is largely unpatterned.

    As for what it’s doing, it’s probably anting.

  7. #7 joshua
    April 25, 2010

    Some type of bird of prey? (Klingon?)

    Superb photo.

  8. #8 Adrian
    April 27, 2010

    WOW, Dan’s pictures just keep getting better.
    If this bird isn’t anting I think it may be warming its belly to aid the digestion of the fruit, buds and flowers that make up a lot of the diet. I know that Mousebirds, which have a similar diet, do this by hanging with the belly towards the sun to “ferment?” the vegetable matter.

  9. #9 Adrian
    April 30, 2010

    Hi Grrl,
    Do we know what the bird is doing? Is it anting or digesting>
    How’s the severe cold, perhaps a few doses of Gluwein will help.

  10. #10 Dan Logen
    May 2, 2010

    We were coming back for a late lunch at the Tarangire Sopa Lodge, and had just entered the gate when we noticed two Bare-faced Go-away-birds in this pose in the flower bed beside the driveway. They slowly, almost reluctantly, got themselves together and flew away, but allowed plenty of time for photos. I had the impression they were “enjoying” whatever they were doing. My cousin thinks they were simply sunbathing. Perhaps they were anting, but they certainly weren’t doing so actively. Perhaps they were passively anting–like lying on some ants. Sorry I can’t be more definitive.

  11. #11 Adrian
    May 2, 2010

    Thanks Dan, I have examined your pic and cannot see any visible ants and as the birds were in a flower bed I think this supports my theory that they had been eating plant material. I think that they were using the hot ground as an aid to digestion as (most?) birds do not have the enzymes necessary to break down the cellulose (I may be wrong here as I can’t find any papers on this).

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