Birds preen each other to soothe ruffled feathers
Birds’ smoothing each other’s plumage was mostly thought to be simply part of their bathing routine.
But we’ve now learned that, like other animals, they do it to relax – just like a massage, and often after a busy bout of foraging for food.
It’s also a way for dominant birds to bond with junior members of the flock.
Dr. Andrew Radford, of Bristol University, studied the behavior of 20 groups of wild birds and concluded that “it’s rather like a massage.”
The six-month study, published in the journal Biology Letters, looked at green woodhoopoes, who live in Africa and are closely related to the kingfisher.
Dr. Radford said that when the birds peck and smooth each other’s heads, it’s mainly to keep clean. But when they do it all over each other’s bodies, it’s like a massage.
Read more at LiveScience.