Why Do Birds Rub Their Beak On A Branch?

bird rub beak,

Photo via Flickr.

I have often seen a bird rub its beak on a branch or part of a tree and wondered why they do it.  The answer may surprise you.

I have seen dogs and other animals mark their territory by urinating.  This made me think that maybe birds did the same thing by somehow rubbing their beak on a tree.  But, I was surprised to find out that is not necessarily the case.  Birds’ beaks tell us a lot about the bird and it is important they keep their beak in good condition.

birds rub their beak

Birds rub their beak after eating. Photo via Flickr.

Birds Rub Their Beak To Clean It

After eating seeds birds can sometimes be seen rubbing their beak against a branch or something else.  They do this in order to keep their beak clean.

Unlike people, birds can’t wipe off their face with a napkin after a meal.  So, after a meal if they have some debris left on their beak they rub it on something in order to clean it.

birds rub beak, blue jay

Photo via Flickr.

Birds Rub Their Beak To Shape It

Birds beaks grow their entire lives.  This means that birds often will rub their beak on something in order to shape and tune the edges.  It is important that birds keep their beak well shaped so that they can eat their preferred food choice.

Do All Birds Rub Their Beak?

Yes.  It turns out that all birds do rub their beak.  Start watching birds and you will see them doing this all of the time.  They need to do it for the two reasons that I listed above – to clean their beak and keep it in good shape.

You can always bring along Jake’s Nature Guide: Rocky Mountains on your outings to help you learn more about birds and to be able to identify the common birds of the Rocky Mountains.

For some more information on birds you can read about the common birds of the Rocky Mountains, fun facts about wild turkeys, 7 facts about hummingbirds, or some information about what is molting and why birds do it.