often splash and chirp as they bathe. Are they enjoying themselves?
Only the robins know for sure!
Robins need water to drink and to stay clean. It looks
like this robin is bathing. Robins
bathe as often as possible. They'll use any kind of water they can
find: ponds, mud puddles, melted snow, bird baths, and lawn sprinklers.
Sometimes many robins will line up to wait for a bath!
See the robin's head feathers sticking up. A robin can make some areas of feathers rise up to allow water to reach their skin.
Lots of splashing is part of the program! Robins have hollow bones, so the are too light to
submerge themselves. Instead, they bathe in shallow water and splash
it up to wet their backs and heads.
Why do robins bathe so much?
robin's feathers have crevices where dirt can get stuck. So
it uses its beak to "preen," pecking off dirt and
"zipping" the feathers back together. It does this
by applying oil from a small preen gland near its tail. The oil keep
the bird's feathers soft and pliable. But too much oil makes the
feathers clump, so the bird must wash them off.
- If the
feathers got sopping wet, the robin would have trouble flying. So it
takes many short baths rather than one long soak.
helps keep skin parasites off robins. (The parasites are tiny animals
that live on and harm a robin's skin.)
helps keep robins warm in winter! Clean feathers are warmer feathers. It they aren't clean and in good shape, the feathers don't insulate the bird as well. That means the robin must burn more energy to stay warm at a time when it is a matter of survival. Baths are important all year round.
about your robins?
robins flock together at a bird bath.
Does your schoolyard or backyard have places where robins can drink
and bathe? If not, you can help them out by filling a bowl or bird bath
with one or two inches of water. Then keep your eyes peeled! (In warm
weather, you'll need to replace the water every few days.)