Pin-striped Tit-babblers in a public bath house

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Videography | 2

Tony Tham’s video clip was documented at Singapore’s Venus Loop. It shows a pair of Pin-striped Tit-babblers (Macronous gularis) enjoying a bath in a tree-hole filled with water. The feathers of both birds are thoroughly fluffed and will need plenty of preening after the bath to get the barbs and barbuls properly aligned.

Birds’ feathers need to be properly maintained to keep them in perfect condition. Otherwise there would be problems in flying, especially in getting away from predators and in hunting for food. Bathing is one of a few ways that birds indulge in to clean their feathers, as even water birds bathe LINK.

Dive bathing: Instead of bathing in the water, some birds take dives into the pond or lake to soak up and then fly back to the perch to preen LINK.

Leaf Bathing: Other birds take advantage of water droplets on leaves to leaf-bathe by rolling around on the leaf to soak up the droplets. These water droplets may come from the early morning dew LINK, after a rain LINK or even after the plants are watered LINK.

Sand Bathing: Some birds prefer sand to water to clean their feathers LINK.

Preening: This is the commonest method of feather maintenance LINK and birds indulge in it most of the time. Besides aligning the barbs and barbules of the feathers, preening removes dirt and keep the feathers oiled with a waxy substance obtained from the preen gland found at the base of the tail.

Sunbathing: Lying on the ground LINK or perching on branches of leafless trees LINK, some birds spread their wings to get the full benefit of the sun’s heat.

Anting: A few species of birds pick up ants LINK and place them on their feathers so that the agitated ants release formic acid that kill off lice and mites that have the potential to damage the feathers. Sometimes birds also use millipedes, snails, beetles and wasps instead of ants. Crows especially, have been observed to lie on ants’ nest, allowing the ants to swarm all over them to do the job LINK.

Tony Tham & YC Wee
Singapore
September 2013
(Thanks to Jeremiah Loei, we managed to obtain permission from Tony Tham to post the video clip here)

2 Responses

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