The three Little Grebes at Lorong Halus Wetland taking a bath

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0

Francis Yap sent in a video clip on 23rd March 2011 showing three Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis) flocking in Singapore’s Jalan Halus Wetland. Francis’ account follows:

“As you know, the Little Grebes are nationally threatened birds in Singapore with currently only sightings in Singapore Quarry (where some of them have been transferred) and Lorong Halus as far as I know. After a break of a few years, the Little Grebes of Lorong Halus finally managed to raise a chick. I found the pair with a small chick on 26th February. I managed to get some videos of them the next day.

“In the following weeks, I made little effort to visit them, as I wanted to give them every chance to raise their young in peace. I only visited twice since then and the last one was just this Sunday [20th March 2011] when I saw the now juvenile Little Grebe alone. Perhaps mom and dad are somewhere else, but I am happy to announce that the chick is fine.

“Perhaps you can ask the experts what’s the action of the adult all about in the video?”

Note: Little Grebes are aquatic birds, spending their time in water foraging for food. Being in water most of the time does not mean that they do not need to take regular baths. This is exactly what these grebes are doing – taking their bath.

Notice that they are dipping their heads into the water to wet their feathers, at times totally submerging in the water. At regular intervals they shake their body to get rid of water droplets, followed by preening their feathers. They also flap their wings, exercising their wing muscles and at the same time drying their wing feathers.

Such activities keep their feathers in top form, getting rid of dirt and grease, maybe even ectoparasites. Aquatic birds need to take regular baths just like terrestrial birds. The latter also take sand bath LINK and indulge in anting LINK to maintain their feathers in good condition. Has anyone seen aquatic birds indulging in sand baths and anting?

Francis Yap
August 2012

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