Sunday, April 10, 2011

Turkeys love their dust baths

Taking a dust bath in the warm spring sun

Click on the photos for a close up view

This is the second post in a series on Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris):

After a long, hard winter taking dust baths is both a simple pleasure that turkeys dearly love and a necessary part of good grooming. It's fascinating to watch them makes these body-sized, bowl-shaped depressions in loose soil, and I often find feathers or clumps of down nearby.

According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife: "Wild turkeys and other birds must maintain their plumage to keep the feathers from being saturated with dry flakes of skin, excess preening oil, and other debris. Many birds take water baths to accomplish this purpose, either by dipping into water or by erecting their feathers during a drizzle. However, birds that live in areas where standing water is unavailable take 'dust baths' as a substitute. They create wallows by scraping the ground and then throw the fine dusty soil over their bodies. The dust is worked into the plumage and then shaken out along with the skin debris and excess oil absorbed by the dust. Dusting may help the birds rid themselves of bird lice and other external parasites. "

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