An essential and important activity / by Chris Maynard

We use our hands to scrub our skin and otherwise groom ourselves. Plus we have tools to help, like hairbrushes. Birds only have their beaks plus they have a lot more to take care than just skin—thousands of feathers. Without preening, the feathers would get dirtier by the day. They would not be able to repel water and would look ugly and dull as well. Without preening feathers barbs would come apart and stay apart and eventually the bird would not be able to fly. Mites would have the upper hand and eat the feathers starting with the down next to the bird’s skin. Feathers would clump together. The bird would be cold. So birds spend hours each day preening and they only have their bills to do it. I thought it interesting to film this Spoonbill preening because most birds use a pointed beak rather than a spoon-shaped one. The Spoonbill looks surprisingly efficient.