Wednesday, July 27, 2011

After a hard day's flight, birds love a stress relieving massage


Stress relief: The process known as 'allogrooming' is like a massage, according to scientists

No wonder birds seem so chirpy. When their feathers are ruffled they treat each other to a soothing massage.

The habit of pecking and smoothing each other’s plumage was thought to be simply part of their bathing routine.

But scientists have found it is done to relax, often after a bout of foraging for food.

It can also be a way for dominant birds to bond with junior members of the flock.

Dr Andrew Radford, who studied the behaviour of 20 groups of wild birds, said the process, known as ‘allogrooming’, is ‘rather like a massage’.

The six-month study, published in the journal Biology Letters, looked at green woodhoopoes, a non-migratory bird in sub-Saharan Africa closely related to the kingfisher.

Dr Radford, from Bristol University, said bird grooming has very specific purposes.

When they peck and smooth each other’s heads, they are helping each other keep clean.

However when it extends over the whole body, the bird has gone into massage mode.

source: dailymail

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