While venturing in the woods or observing your feathered friends from the comfort of your home, you may have noticed some birds flapping their wings crazily in the dirt. Well, this activity in birds is known as a dust bath, dusting, or sand bathing.
Now the question is, why do birds bathe in dirt? In short, birds bathe in the dirt to keep their feathers in excellent condition. Birds start rubbing their bodies with dirt to let dirt absorb excess oil and prevent feathers from getting matter or greasy. Dusting makes feathers more aerodynamic and flexible, helping birds to be more efficient at insulating and flying.
Avian experts found that regular dusting helps birdies keep feather mites, lice, and other parasites at bay. Thus, hundreds of ubiquitous bird species opt for performing this feather-cleaning chore.
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When And How Do Birds Bathe In Dirt?
Usually, birds residing in arid areas bathe in the dirt. Indeed, they do it due to not finding any nearby reliable water sources. Again, some birds prefer dusting in a particular session, especially when the water scarcity remains at a top peak.
For dusting, birds tend to scrape their feet in crumbly, dry dirt to make a wallow. Afterward, they lower their bodies to the dirt and start rolling.
While rolling around, they flap their wings vigorously, creating an erratic motion to let dirt reach their feathers and skins effortlessly. Some birds even rub their heads with the ground for coating comparatively shorter feathers than others.
Once birds are entirely coated with dirt, some start shaking off excess dirt immediately, while others prefer perching on nearby tree branches. Then, they shake off the dust and return to a calm state.
How Can You Encourage Birds To Take Dust Baths?
To encourage birdies to take baths in the dirt, add a dust bath to your backyard. Before placing any dust bath, you need to choose an area already adopted by birds; for example, it can be a gravel driveway, dirt pile, sun-exposed flowerbed, or something like that.
If you don’t find such areas, try to build your own dust bath by filling it with fine-grained, dry soil, which should be free from rocks, plants, and clumps. And to help you with building a good dust bath, we have shared a building plan below.
The Definitive Guide To Making Dust Baths For Birds
Making a high-quality dust bath isn’t a daunting chore. You can effortlessly build one using timber, wire mesh, screws, and landscaping materials. Here’s how you should be working on this project.
- Four pieces of 40″ L X 4″ W X 2″ H timber.
- One piece of 40″ X 40″ inches expanded wire mesh.
- One piece of 40″ X 40″ inches landscaping weed control material.
- Four bricks.
- One pack of 4-Inch timber deck screws.
- One bag of 1-Inch nails.
- Sharp Sand.
Let’s Get Into Building:
First, try to clean the space where you wanna place the dust bath; you need to remove elements like weeds and grass.
Afterward, place two timber pieces on the ground, and their placement angle should be 90 degrees. Then, try to drill two pilot holes using a cordless drill and screw in the 4″ screws.
Attach the remaining two timber pieces in the same manner. After that, attach all the pieces and give them a square shape. Then, install the wire mesh on the top of the square structure, and fasten the wire mesh to the frame using 1″ screws.
Afterward, turn the frame around, put the landscaping material inside the box, and fasten the material with the help of 1″ screws. Then, keep some bricks under the four corners of the structure.
Now, it’s sand adding time, take garden soil and fill ⅔ of the box with that soil. One significant thing to remember is that while filling the box with soil, you shouldn’t forget to use the builder’s sieve. That’s it; your dust bath is ready to use.
What Color Allures Birds To A Dust Bath?
Various colors attract different birds, such as blue jays love the blue color, while goldfinches are attracted to yellow. Again, skittish birds love the green color most. But you want to attract the wildest birds, don’t you?
Considering this situation, we recommend painting your dust bath with any bright colors. For instance, you can paint it with red, pink, or orange color, but avoid the white color as it will scare birds away.
What Can I Do to Keep My Dust Bath Clean?
Even though it’s a dust bath, you need to clean it thoroughly after a certain period. Otherwise, the soil can get itchy and harmful for birds when filled with bird droppings and other related elements.
Anyway, to clean the dust bath, you first need to dump out the existing soil. Then, make a solution of white vinegar and water and scrub the dust bath using that mixture. After scrubbing thoroughly every part of your dust bath, you need to rinse it with clean water and leave it to dry.
Once it’s dried entirely, you need to fill the bath with garden soil using a builder’s sieve. That’s how you should clean and reuse your dust bath.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
01. How Many Dirt Baths Do Birds Take Each Day?
Birds may take several dust baths in a day, and their bathing schedules and dusting habits vary from species to species. For instance, some birdies prefer dusting alone while others opt for visiting large wallows in flocks and start bathing together.
02. Which Birds Take Dust Baths?
Various birds love dusting, and the most notable ones are kestrels, thrushes, house sparrows, larks, emus, ostriches, etc. All these bird species enjoy dusting regularly. For example, California quails tend to take social baths together every day.
03. Should Dust Baths Be Placed In The Direct Sunlight Or Shade?
According to avian experts, you need to place your dust bath in an area where direct sunlight doesn’t reach, and it doesn’t remain too shady all the time. That means you need to choose an area with a bit of sunny and shady ambiance.
04. Can I Place Rock In My Dust Bath?
No, it can cause harm to birdies’ health. After perching on the bath, they will start to scrape the soil, and if there is stone, they will get hurt. However, if you use a birdbath filled with water, you can use rocks as these earthy materials will provide birds with a shallow and non-slippery perch.
05. Should I Always Place My Dust Bath On The Ground?
Basically, you can place your dust bath at any height. You can keep it on the ground, on pedestals 2-3 feet high, or hang it quite high. No matter where you place the dust bath, make sure birds can easily reach it, and it should prevent predators and other crawling creatures.
Dusting is essential for birds, as it lets them stay clean and healthy and makes them happy. This maintenance trait allows birds to keep mites and harmful lice at bay. Birds also do dusting to keep the oil levels on their feathers in optimum condition.
By the way, we hope you have enjoyed reading this article and learned a lot about the reasons why birds bathe in the dirt. Comment down below if you still have any queries. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.