But, there is something particularly charming and entertaining about birds bathing. Most seem to prefer the top of the waterfall where the water bubbles out strongly before running in a shallow stream over the mossy rocks and back into the pond.
The wood pigeons are quite stately in their approach, taking their time to hop up the rocks 'till they reach their chosen platform. They aren't exuberant bathers it has to be said but they are quite determined. They have this way of pitching drunkenly to one side with a wing spread out and up – drying their wing pit I assume or maybe when it's sunny just warming the parts the sun doesn't usually reach.
The crows put a lot more effort into their bathing. They squat down and push their heads forward through the water and flick it over their already gleaming backs. They do this several times until satisfied that they are suitably cleansed then they sit on the top of the rocks and preen their already pristine plumage, feather by feather. Such handsome birds.
The blackbirds are keen bathers and seem to prefer bathing in the still, shallow water at the pond margins. They take quite a while over their toilettes, much dipping down in the water with accompanying wing flicking – often repeated several times with silver water droplets surrounding them.
The most exuberant bathers have got to be the starlings. Not a very frequent visitor to the garden, but when they do decide to make an appearance we all know about it. Squawking and squabbling they all try to descend on one feeder spreading the seeds over a wide area. When one chap has the enterprise to try another feeder, the rest soon follow suit with the same untidy result.
Then the plume of water is spotted and they all cram onto the top rock in a joyful, noisy bunch. It's a wonderful event – sparkling water drops fly all through the air and the birds are just so sociable and happy in their bath time. Then as quickly as they arrived they've gone. No sunbathing, no drying, no preening, just off. I never tire of watching the birds bathe.
Written by Eileen Preston