Leaf Bath

California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)

What in the world was this bird doing? This California Towhee, a year round resident of the park, emerged from the shrubbery on the side of the lower path in the Native Plant Area, and dove into the fresh leafy vegetation that grew a few inches tall there. It wasn’t feeding. It beat its wings vigorously, then plunged into even denser stands of the green, and repeated. Earlier in the morning the leaves would have been wet with dew, but this late in the day they held no drops that could serve the bird as a wet bath. The bird was taking a leaf bath. Does this plant have some chemical properties — an odor, a resin, a texture — that helped the bird rid itself of the mites that pester all feathered creatures? This behavior seems to be an item for my MATWOB file (Mysterious Are The Ways Of Birds). When done with the leaves, this towhee buried its belly in the mulch on the path and lay as flat as it could manage. Occasionally it flexed its wings and rose to fluff up. This looked like a dust bath, a more conventional behavior. After a few minutes, the bird was happy; it leaped to its feet and flittered back into the shrubbery.

California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)

More about them:  Audubon Cornell Wikipedia In Chavez Park

Similar Posts:

Translate »