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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dirt baths help birds stay clean

I see a lot of birds taking dust baths in the fall. I have a pond nearby that is always open. Why do the birds roll around in the dirt? ~ Ovid, Michigan

I like questions that explore bird behavior. There is not always a clear answer but casual observations can lead to fascinating insights in the bird world. I’m glad you noticed this curious bird behavior.

Dust bathing is not as common as water bathing but it can reduce moisture and oil, align feather barbs and remove external parasites. In the fall birds might prefer a dust bath to help sooth itchy skin due to molting.

New pin feathers grow within a covering called a sheath. You can see this easily on baby birds when they grow their first adult feathers all at once. When the feather is done growing the sheath falls off with preening or sometimes a little extra help with a roll in the dust.

Some common species that you’ll see dust bathing are sparrows, flickers and thrashers. Thanks for contributing you observation to the blog.
 
Related articles: 
Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/oGHxtQ
Why birds molt http://bit.ly/nf49Sm
Why Don't Birds Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter? http://goo.gl/5ydpvy

1 comment:

Joan V said...

Such a cute video. Thanks for sharing.