Eurasian Tree Sparrows sand-bathing

on 22nd January 2011

“I was on Pangkor Island [Malaysia] last week and saw these odd hollows on the sand just behind the beach and right by the bar at which I was enjoying an early evening beer (above).

“I was wondering what had caused the hollows, but later saw that a flock of Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) had selected this spot as their sand-bathing area and had created the hollows over time by their rapid movements in the dry, coarsely-grained sand. As the photos below show, they use the hollows again and again, rather than starting from scratch each time. It would appear that by being below ground level, they more easily get the sand to fly over them when they roll around and flutter their wings and tails.

“The number and proximity of the hollows (there were no other such spots that I could see in the vicinity) would also suggest that sand-bathing is a social phenomenon in this case, and not perhaps solely to treat parasites and dry skin.”

Howard Banwell
19th January 2011

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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