About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Do Birds Sip or Slurp?

Mourning Dove at the bird bath.Image via WikipediaIf you have a bird bath I’m sure you’ve noticed a lot more activity this month. (I can’t believe it’s still so hot!!!!) I was backyard birdwatching last night when a lone dove sat in the middle of the bath, and love them or hate them, Mourning Doves have presence. My dove was just sitting there with its eyes closed and his crop bulging visibly with the best Wild Birds Unlimited bird seed.

After he quietly digested for about 10 minutes, a beautiful yellow goldfinch slipped in and took a quick sip and flit off. Lots of little birds like shallow waters that they can dip their bill, then tip it up to let the drops fall down their throat. Most birds use this dip and sip technique to drink.

After the goldfinch left, the dove perked up a little and stuck its bill in the water for several seconds. Mourning Doves and Pigeons like to suck up their water using a muscular pumping mechanism in their throat that draws liquid up. He took a couple of long drinks before he decided to move along. .

Right next to the bath is our hummingbird feeder. Now the long bill of a hummingbird looks like it’s made for sucking up water like a straw, but they actually lap up sugar water (nectar). The hummingbirds' tongues have grooves on the sides that collect nectar, and when the bill constricts, the hummingbirds can swallow the nectar from flowers or feeders. You may not have noticed this at your feeder because, as with everything else about the hummingbird, that tongue is fast, moving in and out 13 times a second.

So take the time to watch your birdbath today and notice if your birds sip or slurp?

Source: Secret Lives Of Common Birds: Enjoying Bird Behavior Through The Seasons by Marie Read
Related Articles:

1. Working Together: Pigeons Take Turns at the Water Fountain

2. Birds Don't Sweat: The Importance of Birdbaths

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