Water wings II

After watching the mallard drakes taking a bath a few days ago, today it was the turn of the harbour pigeon flock to make a splash of their own.

Settling down in the water
Splashing around

The primary function of bathing is to wash excess oil and dirt from the feathers and also rid them of parasites. As many of the pigeons have recently moulted their feathers, the bathing may also offer some relief from the itching and irritation caused as their new feathers emerge through the skin.

Bottoms up!
Vigerous bathing
Stop splashing!
Bath for two

For pigeons, bathing is a usually a social activity and once one member of a flock decides it is safe to enter water, the rest will soon follow.

Perhaps bathing together helps the birds to strengthen their bonds, or maybe it is just a matter of ‘safety in numbers’. Whilst bathing, the pigeons are very vulnerable and exposed, and it is certainly better to do so with many more eyes around to keep watch for predators.

The pied pigeon crouching in the water
Bathing as a flock
Pigeon trio
Pied pigeon and her reflection
Exiting the water
Safety in numbers
Move over!

Occasionally there was a squabble over the best bathing spot!

Pigeon pecking at it’s companion

This individual kept raising it’s wings, a behaviour often seen during a rain shower and also whilst bathing.

Wing raise
Drying off

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 ©

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