Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dust Bath, Sun Bath

This group of European house sparrows, Passer domesticus, was dust bathing in a sandy patch of dirt in Central Park in New York City on Friday afternoon.
To take a dust bath, scratch a depression with the feet. Wiggle the belly down into it. Ruffle the feathers. Shake and flap furiously to fling dust in the air. Spread the wings and get dust all over them. Shake the dust through the feathers and down to the skin. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Then shake the dust off and preen until spiffy. Voila! Many kinds of birds take dust baths; it helps control parasites and absorbs excess oil.

 Click on the photos to enlarge. 
This American robin, Turdus migratorius, is taking a sun bath.
Sun bathing, too, helps keep the feather parasites down. To sun bathe, a bird spreads or droops the wings, ruffles feathers, and assumes various postures that expose different areas of its body to the sun. When a parasite moves to get away from the heat and light, the bird snacks it down.

A gray catbird, Dumatella carolinensis, catching some rays. 

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