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Bathing

Nearly all birds have been observed bathing, most are seen to do so regularly. Scientists have observed birds bathe in several different ways. Some birds like sparrows simply splash a little water around at the edge of a pond or pool, others like robins get deeper into the water and flick their wings open, spread their tail feathers and at the same time dip their head and shoulder under the water throwing water back over their bodies. Babblers simply jump into and out of the water source over and over again, while Kingfishers plunge down into the water and spread their feathers. Swifts and swallows flight bathe by flying so low over the water that they actually dip into the water for a very short time. Water birds also bathe and ducks and gulls can often be observed thrashing around in the water or making similar wings' spread head dipping movements while resting on the water that robins use when standing in a pond edge. Parrots bathe in the rain while
hornbills and other birds use the dew to have an early morning bathe. 

Where water is scarce birds use dust to bathe in. This may seem silly at first, but if you think about it, a dry powder is easy to shake out of your clothes, but sticky plant resins or animal juices from prey items and other organic wastes are not. By bathing in dust, birds can remove this sort of material because each particle of dust absorbs just a little gunk before it is shaken off. Cleaning is so important to birds that sparrows on the desert edge have been observed to dust bathe in a bowl of sugar when no dust was available. Whatever the sort of bathing used, it is only a prelude to preening which is a constant job for a bird.

The information on this page was contributed by EarthLife.

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