Bird story: Something unexpected

This story from Bruce Moffat was distributed to the Birding Group on February 2.

I followed 7 Red Crossbills around a Highway 19 rest area for almost an hour, watching their behaviour and following them from tree to tree. It seemed odd to me they would leave the conifer trees laden with cones with the seeds they sought for the bare branches of the maple and alders nearby. They would bend and scrape their bills against the branches, and I presumed were cleaning the bills as many birds do. Upon processing and close examination of the photos (taken with a strong back/sidelight which could not be avoided) I could observe the unexpected. They were drinking. It was these bare branches that were collecting the condensation from the moist air. They lined up the water and did an upside down scrape of the bark to collect the water. Wonders never cease! [Click a photo to enlarge it.]

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