What I am writing about is birds drinking water. Like all animals, they need water to survive. This water comes from three sources: free water, moisture in food and metabolic water formed during cellular respiration. Very few birds depend entirely on the last source but most get their water from the food they eat.
Birds also drink from rain puddles, streams, ponds or lakes. If you have observed a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) drinking, you will notice it dipping its bill into the water and then raising it head so that the water can drip into its throat (above). Such behaviour is also seen in the Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) (below left). This is because most birds are unable to suck water in.
But not doves and pigeons. The Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) dips its bill into the water and sucks it in. It does not need to raise its head as with other birds.
Among North American birds, only doves and pigeons are capable of suctioning water. But how about Southeast Asian birds? Do our local birdwatchers know of any other birds drinking like these doves and pigeons?
1. Temple, S. A., 2004. Individuals, populations, and communities: The ecology of birds. In: Podulka, S., R. W. Jr. Rohrbaugh & R. Bonney (eds.), Handbook of bird biology. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Pp 9.1-134.
2. Wells, J. V. & A. C. Wells, 2001. Pigeons and doves. In: Elphick, C., J. B. Dunning & D. A. Sibley (eds.), The sibley guide to bird life and behavior. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Pp. 319-325.