Bird Indicators of Water

Photo by Simon Tullstedt

10/16/14
To Do Today:

  • PT – Cardio – 3 mile run for time // Strength – Chest group
  • Browse The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to identify birds and their behaviors in your local area or expected AO.

Bird Indicators of Water

Observe the flight of birds particularly at dawn and dusk. Birds will routinely glide and hover around a surface water source. Parrots and pigeons are rarely very far from water. Also listen for sounds of birds and follow to locate where the birds get their drink. A flock of birds circling over one spot, unless vultures, usually indicate water.

Of course a water source being used by birds and other animals will not always be pure (and may have a heavy presence of bird shit and feathers in and around it). Digging a hole near the water source (7-9 feet away) and letting water seep through the soil/sand/clay will render the water safer.

  • Finches. All the finches are grain-eaters and water drinkers. In the dry belts you may see a colony of finches and you can be certain that you are near water, probably a hidden spring or permanent soak.
  • Pigeons. Wild pigeons are a reliable indicator of water. Being grain and seed eaters they spend the day out on the plains feeding and then with the approach of dusk, make for a water hole, drink their fill and fly slowly back to their nest. Their manner of flying will tell you the direction of their water supply. If they are flying low and swift they are flying to water but if their flight is from tree to tree and slow, they are returning from drinking. Being heavy with water they are vulnerable to birds of prey.
  • Grain Eaters. All the grain eaters and most of the ground feeders require water, so that if you see their tracks on the ground you can be fairly certain that there is water within a few miles of your location. An exception are parrots and cockatoos which are not seen as reliable indicators of water.
  • Carnivores Birds. Being flesh eaters they get most of the moisture they need from the flesh of their prey thus not reliable water drinkers. So don’t regard flesh eating birds as indicator for water. Nor should you regard the water living birds as indicators of fresh or drinkable water.

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