Playing in the Dirt
I saw a northern flicker rolling back and forth in some dirt. Later the same day, I saw a dark-eyed junco doing the same thing. Can you explain what they were doing?
—Danette Manes, Spirit Lake, Idaho
George: Both the flicker and the junco were "dust bathing," which reconditions their feathers and helps eliminate annoying parasites. Many birds do it, but it seems that quail, pheasants, grouse and house sparrows do this more often than other birds.