Spa day

The other day after one of the rains, I was pulling into my driveway.  There, in the middle of a big puddle were two birds.  A Mourning Dove and a Brown Thrasher were just sitting in the middle of the water, only a foot or two apart.  As I pulled my car into the driveway, the dove flew off, bit of water spraying off its feathers.  The thrasher, however, chose to stay in the water right up until the time I got the car right next to him.  He just didn’t seem to want to move at all.

The bird did, finally, move off and I pulled into the garage.  Within a minute, the thrasher came walking across the driveway and positioned itself right in the puddle, again.  It very calmly just erected its feathers and lowered itself into the water.  No splashing, like I would expect from a titmouse or a sparrow.  It just sat down and soaked (and honestly, looked a little perturbed that I had disturbed it).

Now there are many different kinds of bathing behaviors, but they usually involve splashing of some sort.

Burtt, E.H, Jr.  1983.  Comparative implications of bathing by a Willow Flycatcher.  Journal of Field Ornithology 54:  417-418

Why the thrasher just sat in the water, I don’t know.  There is evidence that increasing parasite loads lead to more time spent in grooming and maintenance behaviors, but eliminating parasites is usually associated with active movements.

Cotgreave, P. and D.H. Clayton.  1994.  Comparative analysis of time spent grooming by birds in relation to parasite load.  Behaviour 131:  171-187.

This particular thrasher just seemed a bit too relaxed in the puddle.  Clearly, it was just spoiling itself by enjoying the sun and a soak in the afternoon.


About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
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