“I had the good fortune to witness and photograph a White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) diving into the water to bathe. This happened in slow moving water along a canal (above, below).
“The kingfisher dipped into the water six times, each time taking a short flight along the canal before plunging into the shallow water. Each dip lasted only one to two seconds in the water. After each plunge, the water was agitated by the dive as well as by the furious movements of the immersed bird shaking to clean itself underwater.
“The bird was seen emerging out of the water in a different direction from its pre-dive flight path. It returned to land and rested for a while before continuing with its bath.
“After the 4th dip, the bird was seen flapping its wings and shaking away water. After the fifth dip, the bird was preening and seen reaching its preen gland. It then did a scratch with its left leg extended over its left wing (above).
“Not satisfied, it went for a sixth dip before flying to perch on the railing along the canal (left). There, it shook away the water and stretched out its wings to dry itself under the morning sun. The strikingly colourful wings and fluffy flank feathers that covered its wings partially was quite a sight. After five minutes, it looked upwards into the sky before flying away. ”
Kwong Wai Chong
19th December 2009
According to Woodall (2001), “Many kingfishers bathe by dipping in and out of water, after which they move to a loafing site, such as a shady tree, in order to preen. White-throated Kingfishers dip from a low perch into a shallow pool to bathe. They return almost immediately to the perch, where they vigorously shake themselves and wipe the bill on the branch, but they do not then preen. This action may be repeated four or five times.” This observation shows that the kingfisher did preen, but not after each dip in the water.
Woodall, P. F., 2001. Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 6. Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 130-249.