View Full Version : Dust bath of a Bengal Bushlark (Mirafra assamica)

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:37 PM
I hope that everybody will be of the same opinion that the secret of knowledge lies in the power of observations. The progress of mankind and their behavior of aggression also, to some extent, are the fruits of that knowledge. Observation of those various natural facts and their justifications from different angles make wide open a number of ways of interests. In the field of ornithology also there is no exception.

The observation is universal. Everyone can be independent in his observation and is not under any authority for this. We all can study the daily happenings in nature – all from individual perspectives. The educational qualifications the professional background etc. may not always influence the simple observations of the people and induce loss of their merits in that field. What plays an important role here is the interest, the impression and thereby the logic formed by the person who observes. In my case the spirit behind studying birds is my love and passion for them in spite of my being a civil engineer and profession being in a completely different field. And I find it easier to observe their moods and behaviors from those perspectives, reasoning and justifications come out of the interest and passion of observations. Of course the blessings of internet can not be neglected to help to come to a refurbished concrete conception out of those pieces of common observations.

I must confess that all these observations and justifications are not always free from any faults and neither are hundred percent scientific. These types of observations made with the help of human sense organs and intellect may not always be truly scientific. To make the observations truly scientific one needs to be associated with some relevant scientific Institution; which I don’t have any access to. This is the limitation of this so called ‘universal observation’. Bearing that in mind I would like to describe one of my experience which I had a few days back.

I do not miss any chance to go for outings when the sun rays peep through the clouds in between spells of rains during the monsoons. On a particular day, I suddenly discovered a Bengal Bushlark having its dust bath just beside a man-made narrow footpath in the field. It was not very far from my house. On a sudden look one may take it as if injured and wincing out of pain. As this event was not new to me, I was not very much concerned and could understand what was going on. The main challenge behind making a documentary of this particular behavior is to choose a suitable position for my camera without disturbing it. And I tried my best.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:40 PM
In that place there were plenty of naturally stored rain water here and there in the ploughed field. Some other birds are often found having their bath there. But I never before came across a Bengal Bushlark bathing there. Although it was an amazing experience to witness their dust bath.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:43 PM
The main challenge to a bird during dust bath is to drench the whole body parts with dust. For that the main trick is to flap the wings rapidly into the dust.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:45 PM
For different parts of their body they practice different skills. Like for the throat and lower bill they lie and rub those parts very hard in the dust.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:48 PM
For upper-head they make that portion rub directly there supporting their back against dust.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:49 PM
Though they never forget to look around to secure themselves from any unpredictable or sudden threat.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:51 PM
Sometimes, they scratch the dry ground with their tough nails to make the dust loose.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:53 PM
Even, using their end of tail they make the dust move on their back to ensure complete dust bath for the upper-back feathers.

Samrat Sarkar
16-09-2016, 06:58 PM
Generally, birds make dust bath for-

1. The dust bath is an important part for the day to day maintenance of their feathers.

2. Dust absorbs the excessive preen oil from the feathers. Dust also helps to make loose dry skins and other foreign materials and let them get out at the time of preening.

3. Getting rid of additional preen oil helps the feathers from becoming too much oily and they remain fit for flying. It also helps the body temperature remain balanced.

4. The feathers remain free from parasites like mites, lice and so on.

The whole event of dust bath lasts for almost five to six minutes. They return to their favorite place for next dust bath on the next day.

Observations, Photographs and originally written in Bengali by - Samrat Sarkar.
Translated in English by - Biswajit Debnath and Arun Acherjee.
Equipment used - Canon EOS 7D + Canon 500mm f4 IS II USM + Monopod
Place - Nadia, West Bengal, India.
Special thanks to - Obviously Internet!!

Mrudul Godbole
17-09-2016, 10:15 PM
Very interesting to observe how this bird was taking the mud bath. Nice photographs. I particularly liked the one in which it it lying on its back to rub its head in the mud. Thanks for sharing the detailed write-up. Look forward to more.

Dheerendra Singh
18-09-2016, 12:26 PM
Nice observations and beautiful photography...

Mangru Minz
20-09-2016, 11:43 AM
Nice documentation of behaviour & beautiful photography

Samrat Sarkar
17-10-2016, 07:56 PM
Thanks a lot Mrudul ji, Dheerendra bhai and Mangru ji...