Wild Rooster Rubbing and Rolling

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Videography | 9
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll

“As we bid farewell to the Year of the Rooster, let us take a look at a rarely observed antic of the Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus). In December 2017, a sighting of a mature male was not anticipated, but I did observe one approach a mound of mulch and settle himself comfortably in the middle (above, below).

Red Junglefowl-rub/roll
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll

“Soon, he lay stretched out on his side and started to rub his wings against the substrate (below). Occasionally, he would also roll about (image 4).

Red Junglefowl-rub/roll
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll

“Video clips of the wild rooster on the mound may be previewed here:

“Towards the end of this session, he stood up briefly, then laid back down on his side again, stretching his legs, with a look of content on his face (below).

Red Junglefowl-rub/roll
Red Junglefowl-rub/roll

“In total, this rubbing and rolling session lasted more than ten minutes. When I looked at the videos carefully on a big screen, I could detect some ants scurrying around the mulch. However, when I inspected the mound shortly after the rooster had departed, there was no ant in sight. I believe they must have all retreated deep into the mound and would only surface when disturbed (by the rooster, in this case). Hence, the rooster was most likely to have been engaging in what is often known as anting behaviour.”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
11th February 2018

9 Responses

  1. Todd Wilson

    This is dust bathing. It is an extremely common behavior in domestic chickens. Anyone who has been around chickens for any amount of time has seen this behavior many times. They will even engage in it on a dusty carpet if fresh dirt is not available. I don’t believe it has anything to do at all with the presence of ants.

  2. LTM

    Dust bathing and/or Anting, this behaviour certainly helps keep the Wild Rooster’s plumage in tip top condition, thus helping him to remain ‘Top Dog’ in his territory.

    : )

  3. Am

    Why do chickens like to “dust bathe”? How does it “keep [their] plumage in tip top condition”?

  4. YC Wee

    The small particles in the “dust” help to physically remove ectoparasites from the feathers. I suppose the dust also remove stale preen oil.

    • Am

      Very interesting! Thanks! So it works similar to dry shampoo for humans!

      By the way, on an unrelated note, I observed a pair of common mynas (they were clearly together) foraging for food in the Changi Airport T4 carpark at 3 am on Sunday. I was very puzzled as to why they were up that late as mynas are not known to be nocturnal. I’m wondering if competition from the Javan mynas is to blame – since common mynas can’t compete with them for food in the day, they are forced to adapt, and in this case this pair has chosen to forage in the night instead of day.

      This isn’t the first time I’ve seen mynas foraging for food late at night, by the way.

      I’d like to know if anyone else has observed nocturnal activity in birds otherwise known to not be nocturnal.

  5. YC Wee

    Any photos? We can post it and ask if anyone has seen such night feeding. It can be urban adaptations?

    • Am

      Unfortunately didn’t manage to take any photos. Next time I see this I will try! If anyone goes to Changi Airport T4 carpark 4B between midnight to 3am next time, they can try to look out for the common mynas I mentioned!

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