Preen, dip, bathe, and scratch! These are the various ways in which birdies take good care of their precious feathers. Here are a few examples taken during clean-up time!
Preening is so very time-consuming! Here an Indian Skimmer (top) uses its unusual, spectacular beak to comb through feathers, and a Silverbill is busy at it while also showing off the preen gland (just above the tail) from where birds get an "oil" to keep their feathers ship-shape!
A bath can be a serene experience, like the Shikra in the water. Else it can be boisterous with water flying everwhere: for some Comb Ducks, one duck's bathwater is another's drink, apparently!
And finally, the soothing scratch! Here a Silverbill, a Black-necked Stork juvenile, and a Sarus Crane find out the real meaning of the phrase "for every itch, there is a scratch"!
(Photograph information: Skimmer - Etawah district, Apr 9, 2009; Silverbill preening - lucknow, Nov 27, 2008; Shikra - Barabanki, Nov 23, 2008; Comb Duck - Etawah, Apr 9, 2009; Silverbill scratch - Barabanki, Nov 25, 2008; Black-necked Stork - Mainpuri, Apr 7, 2009; Sarus Crane - Etawah, Feb 12, 2009. Thanks to Satish for the scratch-itch phrase!)