Birds bathing in the rain

Normally when it rains birds take shelter, usually under the foliage LINK. However, Singapore recently experienced a period of drought. So when there were light showers during this period, birds took advantage of the rain to have a bath.

Recently field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng was pleasantly delighted when she encountered birds perching in the open to enjoy the rain. There were a few Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops philippinus) crouching low on the exposed ends of Casuarina branches (above). They had their wings splayed with tail feathers fanned. This allowed the raindrops to soak through their feathers. Regularly the birds shook themselves vigorously to remove excess water. No doubt after their bath the feathers would be preened and if the sun was out they would sun themselves. In this way they keep their feathers in good condition. See also HERE.

There were also Black-shouldered Kites (Elanus caeruleus) taking advantage of the rain, The image above shows one perching on a dead branch taking up a similar position as seen with the bee-eaters.

Birds also love to take leaf-baths. They will roll on the surface of a large leaf to soak up the droplets of water after a rain LINK or even after the plants in the garden are watered LINK.

Wang Luan Keng
March 2015

3 Responses

  1. Ilsa Sharp

    Yes, I too have observed the way birds use recently watered trees and vegetation as a sort of ‘tool’ or shower fixture for taking a bath! When I water the trees in my Perth garden,Western Australia, the honey-eaters and wattle-birds practically queue up waiting for me to finish, then as soon as I have stood aside, they dive into the newly wet bushes and vigorously flutter and skip around in the leaves, deliberately showering themselves. They often appear to enjoy this method of bathing even more than the classic open bird-bath option.I can’t adduce much scientific evidence but I have the impression this is more a habit of the smaller birds than large ones – the wattle bird would be the largest species I have observed behaving this way.Laughing doves in my garden, for example, which are larger, seem to tend to just stand in water bodies or bird baths, cooling their feet and legs.

  2. Marilyn Gould

    Just watched a morning dove sitting on an electric line enjoying a heavy downpour. It was alternately stretching out it’s wings during the rain, after the rain it was preening itself. Sure look like it was taking a shower to me.

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