Spring 2017: Quakie’s bath sequence in Photos

Watching a duck bathe is a real pleasure. There is something satisfying and therapeutic in seeing how thorough and methodical they are with the job.

Quakie often starts off her routine by blowing hard out of her nasal passages underwater to clear her nares. She also stands on one foot at a time while using the other to scratch at the side of her head –  presumably cleaning the area around her ears. After that she moves on to the rest of the body, first getting herself good and wet, and splashing a lot of water over her back and under her wings. After that she raises her body up and beats her wings a few times to shake off excess water, and then starts to groom. At the end of the process she waterproofs her feathers with a secretion from a gland on her back. She may repeat some of these grooming steps until she feels satisfied with the result.

A duck sitting on eggs may only have a few minutes to get her day’s grooming done during her short break to eat and freshen up, so often doesn’t have the luxury of being very thorough but I think Quakie does a pretty good job.

First, a little dabbling…

… then a bit of a swim around the pond.

The bath starts with vigorous beating of her wings in the water.

Ducking underwater helps to get water over her back.

Quakie smooths her feathers out one side at a time.

Mustn’t forget the breast feathers.

On the tippy toes and a good wing flap to shake off excess water.

Smoothing out the down feathers under her wings.

Accessing a gland near the tail, she smooths the protective water proofing oil over her body with her bill.

Some final touches to a wing feather.

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