Acanthizids Drinking

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Acanthizids Drinking
From: Sue & Phil Gregory <>
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 08:20:25 +1000
Hi folks,
Many thanks for the contributions that came in on this topic, I gained several new observations and some further insights into an amazingly little-known behaviour. It seems likely that gerygones, thornbills etc get their moisture from their diet and rarely drink. From the 63 species in the family, I now have reports of just 4 drinking, which is from the good folks of Birding Aus and an extensive literature search when it dawned on me that this was largely undocumented in HANZAB (now I know why!) Anthea Fleming suggested that maybe they get some moisture from dew when gleaning, which is something i had not thought about and would be worth looking out for. I have summarised what i now know as follows:

Drinking has been little reported for Acanthizids and is very poorly known; White-browed Scrubwrens have been noted drinking from water troughs in mallee heath and gardens. Brown, Yellow-rumped and Striated Thornbills have been noted drinking from shallow bowls on hot days but not during cooler ones, and again it is likely their diet usually supplies adequate moisture. None of the whiteface species have been reported drinking, perhaps their seed diet gives them enough moisture. Nothing is noted about Gerygones drinking and it may be they obtain enough moisture from arthropod prey to obviate the necessity. Perhaps during gleaning the birds can get moisture from dew too, though this has not been reported (?or specifically looked for) it may be a possibility. I also dug out the following about bathing, which a number of people mentioned when replying about the drinking question: Bathing is poorly known for the group as a whole and unknown for most species, though Brown, Yellow-rumped and Striated Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens are reported to bathe regularly at sprinklers and bird baths. Pilotbirds have been noted bathing in shallow pools, and when raining fly through wet vegetation raising feathers and calling, which may be some sort of feather maintenance but could be display related.

My thanks for the replies.
Good birding
Phil Gregory

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