Birders who see a bird flapping frantically in the dirt may at first be startled or alarmed at the erratic motion, crazy posture and cloud of dust the bird is raising. The bird is simply taking a dust bath, however, and is not in distress in any way. But why do birds do this, and how can you encourage dust bathing in your backyard?
Why Birds Take Dust Baths
Dust baths, also called dusting or sand bathing, are part of a bird’s preening and plumage maintenance that keeps feathers in top condition. The dust that is worked into the bird’s feathers will absorb excess oil to help keep the feathers from becoming greasy or matted. The oil-soaked dust is then shed easily to keep the plumage clean and flexible for more aerodynamic flight and efficient insulation. Dry skin and other debris can also be removed with excess dust, and regular dusting may help smother or minimize lice, feather mites and other parasites.
Hundreds of bird species have been recorded as dusting, though the frequency of the habit varies for each species, the time of year and the local climate conditions.
Sparrows of many types are some of the most frequent dusters, as are game birds including California quail, ring-necked pheasants, helmeted guineafowl and wild turkeys. Thrushes, thrashers, larks and wrens take regular dust baths as well. Birds that live in arid regions are commonly seen dust bathing. Even some raptors, including different species of kestrels, use dust bathing for part of their preening.
How Birds Dust
Birds take dust baths more frequently in arid habitats and during hotter seasons when water for bathing may be scarce. Dusting can occur anywhere and at any time, however, when a bird feels it is necessary to keep its feathers well groomed and when a suitable patch of dust or dry dirt is nearby.
To take a dust bath, a bird begins by scraping their feet in dry, fine, crumbly dirt or sand to create a wallow. Lowering the breast to the ground and rolling, swaying or rocking may deepen the shallow depression. The bird will flip its wings vigorously, similar to bathing in water, to spread dust over the entire body. During this frantic motion, the feathers may be fluffed and the tail spread so the dust can reach the skin more easily…
Fake, molded plastic “decoy” owls are a popular way of deterring common pest species of bird, such as woodpeckers and pigeons. According to the New York Times, fake owls are even used to deter birds near airport runways. Decoy owls work, at least temporarily, because owls prey on many species of birds.
The idea behind decoy owls is a straightforward one. Several species of owls prey upon other bird species, and so their mere presence deters those birds from remaining in the area if they think they have spotted an owl. When a prey sees an owl-like figure, they will usually find somewhere else to be.
Although decoy owls can be effective at deterring many species of birds, they are only a temporary fix. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, birds quickly get used to seeing the same thing day after day, and no longer fear it because it is not moving and thus seems less threatening. When this happens the birds will return, sometimes after just a few days.
About 50 animal species, ranging from birds and mammals to reptiles and insects, use Earth’s magnetic field for navigation.
Yet Earth’s magnetic field is very week. It ranges from approximately 30 to 60 millionths of one tesla. By comparison, magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses magnetic fields from 1.5 to 3.0 tesla.
So scientists unsure exactly how birds do it.
New research finds that a photochemical compass may simulate how migrating birds use the magnetic field, along with light, to navigate.
One theory for how it all works has been that photoreceptors in a bird’s retina absorb light, which causes a chemical reaction that, in turn, produces a short-lived photochemical species whose lifetime is sensitive to the magnitude and direction of a weak magnetic field.
If you’ve ever seen an owl, then you may know that some birds prefer to fly primarily at night. Nocturnal birds, like owls and nighthawks, wake up as the sun sets and hunt at night. During the daytime, they find a safe place and close their eyes to block out the light. By contrast, most birds are diurnal, meaning they’re awake during the day and asleep at night. These species will find something to perch on, like a branch or a windowsill, for the night. Then, the bird will fluff out its down feathers, turn its head around, tuck its beak into its back feathers, and pull one leg up to its belly before falling asleep. Sounds uncomfortable, right?
Actually, it’s quite warm for the snoozing bird. Down feathers, the short fluffy feathers under the sleek outer ones, hold in heat. The bare parts of the bird (the beak and the legs) are tucked in to keep warm under the thick blanket of feathers as temperatures drop for the night.
Seeing a huge variety of birds drift throughout the sky similar to an unforeseeable wave, it’s tough to understand the way birds could fly in development without the help of the high- tech place devices utilized by aerobatic groups similar to the Red Arrows.
This kind of patterns might appear like the outcome of extrasensory interaction, however they remain in truth the item of emerging animal group behaviour called gathering. Every switch comes not as a result of a specific member of the flock, however instead of the snap choices made by any people in reaction to the motions of their neighbors.
Have you seen an eagle sitting on a tree or in a high cliff? Noticed how attentive this bird is to the surrounding? Eagles are known for their sharp vision and focus. Not only that like leaders, you find them one at a time and they do not flock.
Average people want easy routes for everything but leaders find challenges as opportunity to shine! Leaders find adventure in challenges and take these as an opportunity to show the tail light to those who follow them. I remember one of our very good family friends and my mentor in business said, “Everybody goes through challenges when they arrive, but a leader grows through it.” That attribute of an Eagle is what I found very fascinating. I compare challenges with the stormy weather where all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees for safety. In case of storm, the Eagle uses the storm’s wind to lift it higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm, the eagles uses the raging storm to lift him above the clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. What a powerful way to use the power of storm in it’s favor to touch new heights!
While these traits of an Eagle is good enough a reason to compare them with leaders, what I found is, eagles really are not found in a flock. We find them one at a time flying at very high altitude. Just inline with what is leadership development is all about, we don’t find people with leadership abilities and integrity in character in bunch. We find them one at a time and they just don’t show up, we need to look out for them; we need to keep the search ON and once in awhile we find one!
There are about 9000 living bird species. Birds are from the diverse class called Aves. It was generally believed that they evolved from reptilian dinosaurs. Read on to learn more about the unique characteristics of birds:
Feathers are the defining characteristic of Aves, found on every living species of bird and no other class of animal. Feathers are made of keratin, the same substance that forms hair and nails in other animals and are highly modified scales. Feathers are critical not only for flight but also for warmth and protection against the elements — and in many species, for males to attract mates. Soft, fluffy downy feathers help keep birds warm, contour feathers streamline birds’ bodies and aid in flying, and flight feathers on wings and tail give the bird loft. Birds shed, or molt, old feathers once or twice each year, depending on the species.
All birds have wings, although not all birds fly. Nor are wings confined to Aves; bats are flying mammals and most insects have wings. Birds’ bodies are beautifully designed for flight, with strong chest muscles and just enough curve to their wings to provide lift. Differences in wing shape provide different advantages to the various bird species. The narrow, sharp-tipped wings of the falcon provide speed; albatrosses soar high on wings much longer than they are wide. Most songbirds have elliptical, evenly shaped wings that facilitate quick, small movements in the tight spaces of their tree homes. Swimming birds, such as penguins and puffins, have flipper-shaped wings that propel them rapidly and gracefully through water.
The following scenarios should help potential owners make a decision that’s right for them and a new avian friend. If after reading these suggestions you want to get a bird, be ready – as with any companion animal – to invest money for regular veterinary care, a varied diet and toys.
Also, prepare to spend time playing with and talking to your bird. Today, most pet birds are hand-raised and therefore dependent on human contact for their happiness and well being.
Does you child love pet birds? If your kid has the time, the patience and is mature enough to care for a pet bird, the nine species listed below would be perfect for any kid. The selection was based on how noisy the bird was, the availability of the species in pet shops, the cost and the ease of caring for them.
There are many great stories of responsible children keeping some of the bigger parrots, however, those parrots life expectancies are longer, so the child will have to keep the bird through the life changes that young adults go through.
A canary can be kept by itself and it entertains with its song. A canary doesn’t come out of the cage, so it only needs food, water and cage cleaning, but doesn’t need one-on-one play time. A canary can live up to 15 years, so parents should be willing to take over the canary’s care if the child goes off to college.
2) Society finches
The society finch would make a great pet bird. You need to keep them in pairs, they are readily available at pet stores, and they are low noise volume and low mess. Buy them a roomy, horizontal-shaped cage so they can fly around. They need their food and water changed and their cage floor cleaned, but there is no one-on-one interaction. The society finch can live to up to seven years.
This is a wonderful pet parrot, native to Australia. It is a smaller parrot, so is often refered to as the general term “parakeet” by Americans. The budgerigar, or budgie, makes a great pet for older children. A younger child may accidentally injure the bird if he or she is not gentle. The budgie’s cage can fit in the kid’s bedroom. It can be a great best friend if the child takes the time to tame it and interact with it. Its volume level is low, although it can chatter quite a bit, and some even talk. It will need veterinarian care, so don’t adopt one if you are unwilling to take it to the vet. It needs daily food, water and cage changing. It needs some fresh vegetables intertwined around its cage bars. Toys are a must. It will need daily one-on-one time and should have a play gym to spend out-of-cage time on. If the child is not willing to tame the budgie and spend a lot of time with it, then I would stick with a finch or canary. An untamed budgie is not fun for the child or the budgie. The budgie can live up to 15 years, so you need to plan on taking care of the budgie if the child goes to college.