Paddyfield Pipit taking a sand bath

on 26th January 2010

“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

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.

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