31 July 2022

Harlequin Quail Dust Bathing – Phil’s Fields near Sabya

Due to our near miss on dust bathing Harlequin Quail we decided to go back the next day in the early morning to try our luck in the same place. This time we heard birds calling and stopped the car when a bird walked out of the crop field and onto the edge and sat close to the soft ground and vigorously wriggled its body and flapped its wings, sending loose dust and sand into the air. The bird spread a wing allowing the falling sand to fall between the feathers and reach the skin as well as remain in its back. It then started shaking its feathers and doing it over again. It is thought the likely purpose of dust bathing is the removal of parasites from the birds’ feathers. Some species of Quail have communal dust baths so presumably it is not uncommon for Quail but is the first time I have seen it occur, but I saw it twice in the two days we spent looking for the species in Sabya. After the bird finished dust bathing it walked off very close and it or another bird then started calling on a nearby earth mound and was so close we couldn't focus the cameras on it. We got full frame photos of the bird as it later walked past the car.