The Little Heron (Butorides striatus) has grown after nearly two weeks of care and feeding. Of late, the bird was seen preening its feathers. Under normal conditions the parents would have seen to this as long as the chick is in the nest.
Dr Gloria Chay suggested that I place a basin of water inside the cage to allow the bird to bathe and thereby waterproof itself. Well, on 25th November 2007 I did just that.
The bird was then actively preening its feathers while on the perch. When the basin of clean water was placed inside the cage, it sat quietly on the perch looking at the water. It then got excited, moving around from the perch to basin rim and back again, flapping its wings. It then drank from the basin, poking its bill regularly into the water.
Then suddenly, it entered the water and sat in the basin (left). And just as suddenly, it began to soak itself, shaking vigorously, splashing water all over the cage. In the process all the feathers became wet. It stayed in the water for less than five minutes, enjoying its bath before moving out.
Once out of the water it shook itself to get rid of excess water and moved to the perch with wings flapping. It remained on the perch with wings extended, preening for the next five minutes. With wings still slightly extended, it indulged in wing-leg stretching for the next ten minutes, with neck and breast feathers fluffed.
This was its first bath after nearly two weeks since the bird was picked up. My, was the bath water dirty. Subsequently I tried to encourage it to bathe but without success.