Empress Garden, Kavade Mala, Ghorpadi, Pune


Summers have begun in full swing. I opened my office window in the hopes of increasing ventilation. A birdbath is set right outside that window and I knew for a fact my afternoon would be less mundane given all the birds that would be visiting. As I returned to my work, a flap of a wing passed by and I saw a house crow land on the bird bath to drink some water. Or that is what I thought at least. I looked closely just to see some food in the crow’s beak that it was dipping in water before it flew away. I was curious, why would a crow do something like this? After a few minutes, it happened again. The crow was back with more food in its beak ready to dip it in water. I looked with awe and took a mental picture so that I don’t forget what I was looking at.

A pair of Drongo came by to drink some water out of the water bath so did a Coucal. This made me wonder how animals survive in this scorching heat. How they must be coping with all the sudden rise in temperature with no heat wave warning system and security. While I was thinking the crow was back with guess what? More food. I grew curiouser. This has to be intentional I thought. The crow was up to something I didn’t fully understand. So, like a modern human being, I googled for answers. I came across something that blew my mind. Birds from the crow family (Corvidae) have been known to dip their food in water before eating especially in warm weather. There were two possible explanations online, they either do this to make their food more palatable and easier to swallow or they dip their food to increase its moisture content before feeding it to their young ones. Other birds like cockatoos have also been documented dipping their food in water before eating. That is so smart I thought to myself. That’s exactly what we do too. Dip out toast and biscuits in tea before eating.

Like Alice in Wonderland, I fell from one rabbit hole to another discovering how birds have this behavior of dipping food in water before eating. People from all over the globe especially in the USA were asking questions regarding this behavior and it made me think this behavior is not something local it’s not even species-specific. Birds are doing this as naturally as human beings are taking baths. That also made me wonder that there’s so much we don’t know about what goes on in their world. So much we don’t understand. So many things we can only think of probable explanations for and not be sure of still. It filled me with so much excitement. Only observing something for some time can bring so much awe and wonder. No wonder people dedicate all their lives to studying one phenomenon, one behavior in the natural world. The world is full of wonders. 

Picture credit: Venkataramanan Gopalan

Share the Post:

Related Posts