On a New Year’s Day walk along the banks of Lake Springfield, I was greeted with the odd sight of a group of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) somersaulting in the water, followed by the loud flap, flap, flap of them flatly banging their wings on the water, then finishing with waving the wings back and forth in the air to dry, with a good ruffling of feathers for good measure. It was truly an odd sight, given that the large group of geese was doing it together. It was something I had never seen before. Perhaps they wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm day to start the New Year clean. The bathing came to an end with the passing by of a kayaker. All that remained were a pair of mallard ducks.
Canada geese are particularly fastidious about keeping their feathers clean and dry, pulling dirt and water off each feather using the ridges on their mandibles. A good shake and ruffling of their feathers will get them dry. That is followed by oiling their feathers with their bill with oil from the base of their tail. The oil keeps the feathers insulated, dry, and free of parasites.
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