Birds don’t only use water for cleaning themselves, they also ‘sand bathe’. This is a rather interesting phenomenon to observe and so it is worth leaving open sandy patches in your garden. A variety of birds use the fine loose sand to keep their feathers in peak condition and to reduce the number of parasites in them. I first noticed the Laughing Doves doing this in our garden.

Small flocks of them congregate in sandy areas to scoop up the sand with their wings. They then shake their wings, allowing the sand to penetrate between the feathers. Allied to this is the habit of sunbathing, which is when the birds lie down with their wings outstretched. The sun is thought to straighten the feathers and at the same time spread the preen oil throughout the feathers.   Olive Thrushes also engage in this kind of sand bathing.

Dust bathing helps absorb any excess oil and also removes dry skin and other debris. Ostriches sand bathe too.

12 thoughts on “SAND BATHING

    • I am glad you found it interesting, Pete. I have two sandy patches in the garden which the birds seem to particularly enjoy using – possibly because they are sunny too. I have seen sparrows sand bathing, but have no photographs of them doing so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The presence of cats might be a deterrent, although our cat wasn’t enough to put them off. They really need a patch of bare ground that is sunny and which has fine dust or grains of sand.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That is such an interesting point – the value of some sandy or open ground in the garden. It can be useful for ground-nesting insects too! Those laughing doves really do seem to be enjoying their sand bathing.


    • It is interesting to observe. Quite a number of small birds do it – you might come across strange little hollows in a sunny sandy area which could have been created by birds whilst sunbathing.

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  2. My Dear takes water out to the bird bath in our yard every day. Later,through the window, she loves watching the action there. I’m going right away, mask in hand, to our local garden shop to see if they sell sand baths.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Any small bare patch of earth in a sunny spot will do. I do not know if the birds in your area like to have sand baths – it is fairly common here, among doves especially.

      Liked by 1 person

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