With temperatures in the 80s and the dew point pushing 70, we wimpy humans may retreat to the cool of an air-conditioned house. But birds have a better way.
A steady stream of feathered bathers took dips and drinks in our backyard pool on a recent sweltering afternoon. And what entertainment for us, as we watched from the window of a slightly cooler house!
Perhaps lured by the gurgling of water of the recirculating, pump, a pair of robins began the aquatic antics. Then came the male and female cardinals, splashing and shaking vigorously before hopping to a nearby shrub to preen.
The impatient rose-breasted grosbeak butted in before the cardinals had finished, making it a public bath. Not to be outdone, a catbird appeared on the edge of the pool, then furiously ruffled its feathers and sent spray flying.
The common yellowthroat, more nervous than the larger birds, jumped down, then up, then down again onto the wet rocks. The masked warbler finally zipped away to the seclusion of a more private grooming perch.
A more reserved mourning dove walked along the rock wall, occasionally pausing for a drink, but too dignified to take a plunge.
Lesson learned: For better birding, try water!