bathe for the same reasons as humans: to get germs, grime, and parasites
off their skin and feathers. Click on this video clip for your big chance
a Whooper take a bath! Did you notice?
bathing crane starts by getting its feathers thoroughly
wet. Cranes have LONG legs, so you can see this bird dropped down
to get the water on its back.
shakes its feathers to get more of the feather surfaces
wet. Shaking also helps get rid of loose dirt, lice and
crane's feathers and skin are nice and wet, it will preen. This
means it will nibble on the feathers with its bill to straighten
out the barbs so the
feather vanes are tightly locked. As it preens, the crane will
shake its feathers. This throws off water, dirt,
lice and mites. The crane will also rub its bill on its preen
gland—a little bump just above its tail. The oils
from the preen gland act like hand lotion. The oils keep
the feathers supple. Oils keep the feathers in good condition,
and somewhat protected from sun and
bathe when they feel safe and comfortable. That means no predators
in sight! Birds usually don't bathe when they get sick, and lice
and mites multiply
quickly. Just by looking at this Whooping crane's bathing activity,
we can tell the
bird is happy and healthy!
Try This! Journal or Discussion Question
Brooke watched this beth scene and wrote: This bath is followed
by a serious bout of extended preening as the
beak becomes the comb and every feather receives its undivided attention
magical beak-dance choreographed millions of years ago. The simple
watching of it all is a true gift …a
memory to be cherished. Think of something you've seen that was so
special that it became a cherished memory.
Many birds take dust baths as well as water baths. Think about a crane's habitat.
Do you think cranes ever take dust baths? Explain your answer.