Spring has come and all creatures, big or small, feel an energetic impulse. After a long winter, the time has come for renewal. Birdies bathe all year round, but as the weather becomes warmer, they bathe more often. Why do birds bathe, after all? Maybe they like the wet and velvety sensation given by the water. But there is a very practical reason for birds bathing. Birds need to take care of their plumage. Their feathers are very important, they help the birds to fly and keep them warm.
There is an entire ritual involving birds bathing in water. After bathing, some birds protect their feathers using special waterproof oil that comes out of a gland under their tail. Some birds (e.g. hawks, parrots) do not have oil glands, and produce soft feathers that make a fine talc substance which also protects their other feathers.
Birds preen their feathers and like to bathe in shallow pools of water. A lot of birds species treat their plumage in an unusual way. They do anting, meaning that birds apply insects, usually ants, or other substances to their feathers and bodies.
Songbirds pick up ants and apply them to feathers, tropical mynas use millipedes in the same way; crows lie down on ant hills; poisonous birds rub their feathers with poisonous beetles; rooks stand with their wings spread over rising smoke.
Painted bunting bathing in water
Photographer Jim Braswell caught a wonderful moment in Texas Rio Grande River Valley. He photographed a male painted bunting bathing in a water pool. There was an explosion of water drops and colors, as the birdie was splashing and shaking, a beautiful water dance in spring. (source: blog.showmenaturephotography.com)
Sparrow bathing in water
Wild life photographer, Steve Creek captured a cute sparrow ritual bath. (source: stevecreek.com)
Spotted-backed weaver bathing in water
Birds bathing in water
These birds bathe at the day-center at the Lower Sabie camp in the Kruger Park, Pretoria, South Africa.(source: angelikas-photos)