“A pair of adult Paddyfield Pipits (Anthus rufulus malayensis) were behaving oddly in this field and kept returning to this sandy patch. I tried getting close twice but they flew off, only to return when I left.
“The images were cropped into a composite and taken from 25-30 meters. Images are poor quality but I want to show this behaviour of bathing in the sand.
“Have not seen pipits do this in the past. Sparrows do it often, some bee-eaters, mynas occasionally, skylarks and some birds in drier areas.
“It was the heat of the day but the birds were keen to get this “bath”. It lasted for close to 10 minutes. Wonder what sand baths do for birds – pest control, clean feathers or just pleasure?
“I can understand birds in drier regions but locally it cannot be for lack of water! There is a discussion here on this.
According to this article, birds that take dust baths, for feather maintenance. The dust soaks up excess moisture and oil and probably helps to remove tiny parasites that live on feathers. Dust probably also sooths irritated skin and discourages skin parasites that infest birds. Taking a dust bath may even help birds cool down on hot days.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
13th December 2009