I watched this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) preening and relaxing for a half hour or so. At the very end of our “visit,” he yawned and held the pose for just a few seconds. I snapped this shot.
A bird yawn always takes me back to the chaotic year of looking after two rescued racing pigeons, Chauncey and Clive. At the end of every bath session, they’d do an extensive preen, then finish off their scrub down with a big old yawn.
Like wing stretches and droopy-eyed naps, yawning is one of those behaviors I love seeing in the wild. They’re comfort poses, often captured at the tail end of a photography session, after what feels like a mutually agreeable arrangement between photographer and subject.