Bathing birds

Subject: Bathing birds
From: Penny Brockman <>
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2020 23:25:00 +1000
In my back garden there are two 2 metre diametre pools and 3 pedestal birdbaths.  The larger honeyeaters tend to use one of the pools that is clear of overhanging vegetation, diving in either from a nearby tree or from a model horse on one side. It's a quick pop in and back to a perch, with loud claps of the bill on exiting each time.

When the pools were first established, there was no vegetation around them, just a sandstone edging. There were a large number of green Satin Bowerbirds in the garden then and they used to stand on the edge and nearly overbalance trying to dip their bills in to drink. One day a Red Wattlebird started doing the usual dive in and out and was watched with great interest by the bowerbirds.  After a while the wattlebird flew off to preen and one daring bowerbird copied it, jumping in from the edge and out again very quickly.  Ever after that all the bowerbirds bathed like this when using the pond. Not so much now as waterlilies and water weeds interfer with bathing.

The pedestal birdbaths are used extensively by the smaller birds - spinebills, thornbills, fairywrens, willies, grey fantails, small honeyeaters, scrubwrens, occasionally yellow robins and leaden flycatchers, and once a pink robin, but the satin bowerbirds take over when they use these instead of the pond. They create a shower of water and quickly reduce the level. They compete with the rosellas, noisy friarbirds and red wattlebirds, and ownership of the water usually depends on numbers, except if a magpie, butcherbird or crow arrives. Figbirds always and many honeyeaters bathe in the foliage of gum trees at the end of the garden when there's been rain or heavy mist. Altogether it keeps one occupied during times like these when confined to barracks.

On 13/06/2020 11:34 AM, Laurie Knight wrote:
Like many other Australians, I have been working at home during the Covid Crisis.  
I’ve found the best place to work is on a table on the back deck of my house, 
where I am out with the birdlife.  The best birds from the deck during that time were 
a couple of Glossy Blacks flying overhead in search of casuarinas.

Most days I hear the characteristic plopping sounds of Noisy Miners making use 
of the swimming pool. They like to swoop down from either the pool fence or a 
nearby bottlebrush, briefly settle on the water (sometimes bobbing their back 
under water) before turning around on the water and flying back to their 
launching point.  After a feather shuffle or two they generally repeat the 
cycle another couple of times before flying off.

Blue-faced Honeyeaters sometimes also join the party, though they are less 
confident in the water than the miners.  They have more off a skipping 
approach, just doing a belly skim and flying off in the same direction.

The Pied Butcherbirds don’t use the pool.  They wait till it rains then get wet 
by plopping into the foliage of a lillipilly and enjoy the shower from the dripping 

The lorikeets, crows and pigeons have not shown an interest in bathing.

What are other people’s observations of birds bathing in “deep” water [water 
too deep to stand in]?  Have people observed large birds [other than waterbirds] bathing or species 
with interesting bathing styles?

Regards, Laurie.
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