Little Heron chick: 10. Bath time

on 14th December 2007


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.

YC Wee
December 2007

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. YC,
    This little fellar seems to developing very well..
    A few morning ago after a heavy rain fall the night before,
    the road beside my hse collected small patches of water. I notice a flock of Javan Myna gather with excitment around that patches of water to takes bath..

    I always do understand that bird takes bath to cool themselves in a very hot day. That morning is was not a hot day and it happens about 7.30am.

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