What do birds do when it rains? – Pink-necked Green Pigeons

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“I have always been impressed with how birds weather our strong tropical storms. I have seen some smarter ones, like the Oriental Magpie Robins, take shelter under our patio. But most just stick it out under the shade of a tree with thick foliage.

Male Pink-necked Green Pigeon tail
Male Pink-necked Green Pigeon tail

“Yesterday, due to the keen eyes of my wife, I had an opportunity to watch the Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans griseicapilla) handle a fairly rough tropical storm.

Male Pink-necked Green Pigeon tail
Male Pink-necked Green Pigeon tail

“At our home, these pigeons like to sit at the top of the Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica) and give their unique calls as well as feed on its fruit. We were surprised that during the height of the storm these birds were still perched on the high, flimsy branches of this tree. These are not the best branches; there are many more sturdy ones that would not wildly sway in the strong winds (see video below), as well as give more shelter lower down.

“In addition the male seemed to be having some difficulties. The female was unshaken and stayed perched facing the storm direction (wind direction) even when her branch was tossed wildly. The male however was struggling and tried a number of positions. Finally he faced the storm and interestingly kept the tail fully open; we suspect for aerodynamic stability. It was this odd tail posture that caught my wife’s eye. The female however did not open her tail throughout. Once the storm was over they appeared untouched and after some preening flew off.

Female Pink-necked Green Pigeon tail
Female Pink-necked Green Pigeon tail

“There are many queries on the topic of ‘What do birds do when it rains?’ on the web; see some of the references. Of course most birds take shelter but there are suggestions and observations that pigeons tend not to take cover in order to bathe. I am not sure how true this is but one report offers some evidence (see last reference, a publication). The storm we experienced yesterday was not the kind we would considered appropriate to bathe in.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Date: 22nd October 2016

Location: Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban Environment, tropical storm

References:
What do birds do when it rains? LINK

Josiah Clark. Ask the Naturalist: Where Do Birds Go When it Rains? LINK.

L. Michael Romero. How do birds survive storms and other harsh weather? LINK

Birds: Pigeons: Why do pigeons not take cover in rain? LINK.

Rain-bathing by pigeons LINK.

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