Date: 6/7/20 10:20 am
From: Jeff Cooney <gaviacooney...>
Subject: [obol] Mixed Flick Communal “Bath and Preen”
I have heard of mixed flock foraging, but mixed flock communal bathing? That
was a new one to me!!

I observed the following on:

June 5th, 2020 5 PM

South of Paisley Oregon on Blue Street, north of the intersection with Hwy.

Sorry, no photos. I was too far away for my wimpy telephoto lens and did
not wish to interrupt the festivities.

Here are my observations.

A diverse group of birds, were all gathered in the space of about 10 feet,
along the shoulder of Blue Street near Paisley. At this location water
filled ditches run on either side of the dirt road, which is surrounded by
wetlands of the Chewaucan River Valley. The participants included:

Long-billed Curlew (2)

Cinnamon Teal (male and female)

Black-necked Stilt (1)

Willet (1)

Red-winged Blackbird (1)

Wilson’s Phalarope (2)

Killdeer (2)

I noticed the gathering from a distance and stopped to observe this
interesting conglomeration of species.

As I watched, the Willet sauntered over to the ditch, waded in and
proceeded to take a long, vigorous bath. The Red-winged Blackbird followed
suit joining the Willet and began splashing up a storm. Next, one of the
Long-billed Curlews approached the ditch, bent down, took a drink and then
wandered across the road to preen in private. However, the other
Curlew, jumped
in the ditch, joining the Red-winged Blackbird and Willet in a bathing
threesome. Not to be left out, the Black-necked Stilt entered the ditch to
take part in what was by now a bathing extravaganza.

At this point, there are four birds, all different species bathing side by
side in a ditch along Blue Street. Mean while the Cinnamon Teal, Killdeer
and Wilson’s Phalaropes were busy preening up a storm along the edge of the

The wash party ended as it began, gradually. First, the Red-winged
Blackbird left water to preen on a fence post above the ditch. Next the
Black-necked Stilt stepped out of the tub to preen along the shore. Eventually
the Stilt was joined on the shore by the Long-billed Curlew and finally the
Willet. The Willet received the award for longest bath by a supporting
actor! The finale was a preening party, in which all seven species could
be seen frantically preening side by side, in the middle of the raid. The
party ended slowly, as those birds that were sufficiently and properly
primped, wandered off slowly to go about their daily routines.

Come to think of it, after a week of dry camping, I could use a good bath
and a little preening myself!

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