Sunday, February 18, 2007
By 3:00 PM yesterday afternoon, air temperatures in Martinsburg, West Virginia, had risen to a balmy 35 degrees Fahrenheit, causing roadside puddles to form from melting of the adjacent accumulations of snow and ice. That was enough to signal to the European Starlings and House Sparrows that it was bathing weather. When I encountered one starling happily bathing in a small puddle adjacent to the house I thought the bird was absolutely crazy. Then, at an intersection several blocks away, I encountered 3-5 starlings bathing in one puddle and a house sparrow or two bathing in a puddle across the street. At these temperatures, one has to wonder if this type of behavior is adaptive or suicidal.