Washing on the wing…
Hummingbirds are surely one of the world’s most fascinating, compelling and addictive avian groups, offering something to every level of birder or ornithologist. One of the new world’s most marvelous natural specialities!
Although they are of course ubiquitous across the neotropics, views are usually brief and observing an individual for any prolonged period of time is often difficult! I have recently been engaged in fieldwork in Honduras. During a survey at one of our lower sub-sites (ca 600masl) I had the opportunity to watch a female Stripe-tailed Hummingbird washing ‘on the wing’ in a pool of a mountain stream. Reminiscent of a Dragonfly ovipositing, dunking two or three times before flying to a perch to preen and then repeating the process.
I’ve seen hummingbirds washing from wet leaves or drips before, but not in standing water whilst still on the wing. I’ve heard from others of similar observations of this washing behaviour but particularly in Costa Rica where apparently there is a regular site to observe large numbers of hummers doing this.
Presumably this behaviour is relatively common, just infrequently observed… It would be interesting and intriguing to hear of your similar observations!