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.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bathing Behavior of the American Robin

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Why do the American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds and other birds in the thrush family all seem to frolic in the water more than other backyard birds?

They may bathe more than most birds, about twice daily, to remove excessive oil from their feathers.  Most birds have a preen gland or uropygial gland at the base of the tail. With their beak, birds realign the barbs correctly, remove any dirt or parasites and sometimes apply preen oil. Robins and bluebirds seem to produce more preen oil than other birds.

Fluffy feathers provide proper insulation and help in flight. Too much oil on the feathers can cause the feathers to clump and lower efficiency. Most birds have one main molt a year, so birds have to maintain their feathers carefully for a year until they go through another molt.

Bathing also helps keep ectoparasites or other external hitchhikers off including microscopic feather mites, flat hippoboscid flies that bite, or visible ticks.

Water is a powerful attractor and will increase the number and variety of birds coming to your yard.

Related Articles:
Why do birds poop in the bird bath? http://bit.ly/whKqHg
Tips to Maintain a Birdbath http://bit.ly/zGiSbQ
Why Birds Preen http://bit.ly/wcoC9d
The best heated bird baths http://bit.ly/xkyLlW

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