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SCV Outdoor Report: Stain Release

by:  Wendy Langhans


My husband is a racing fan, so it was no surprise to me to find the Fresh Fit 500 on TV when I came home last Sunday.  But what did surprise me was the Tide commercial, showing track workers spreading Tide laundry detergent on the track to clean up after a fire and fuel spill at the Daytona 500.  (To watch, click here.)

It reminds me of way certain birds clean themselves up after a greasy meal.  For example, imagine a Great Blue Heron, standing alongside a fresh or saltwater marsh, enjoying a meal of fish (or frogs or snakes or other small mammal).  Sometimes they just snap, shake and gulp (click here to see a video).  But if the prey is too large, feeding may become a bit more messy.  So how do Great Blue Herons “wash up” after a meal?




Members of the Ardeidae family of birds, which include egrets and herons, have specialized feathers know as powder down.  Rather than molt like most feathers, these powder down feathers continue to grow.  Their edges fray into a talcum-like powder, which the birds use to clean the oily gunk off their feathers.

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According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “The herons comb this “powder down” with a fringed claw on their middle toes, using the down like a washcloth to remove fish slime and other oils from their feathers as they preen. Applying the powder to their underparts protects their feathers against the slime and oils of swamps.”


I loved the tagline in the Tide commercial: "You keep inventing stains. We'll keep inventing ways to get them out."  But I’m wondering if the folks at Proctor & Gamble chose the wrong name for their detergent.  Is it too late to rename it “Downy”?


Upcoming Outdoor Events:

Trail Maintenance Schedule.  Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, March 7, 14, 21 & 28.
Saturday mornings, March 10 & 24.

Saturday, March 17, 8-10 AM.  Up with the birds. Check out the unique migratory birds as they travel north with our in-house birder, Volunteer Naturalist Roger.  Beginners are welcome on this easy walk. Bring binoculars. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot.  For a map and directions, click here.

Saturday, March, 17, 10 AM - 12 PM.  A Celebration of Spring Wildflowers.  Towsley Canyon is the perfet place to see this year’s splendid wildflower display.  Revel in the beautiful colors of spring. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot.  For a map and directions, click here.



You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The SCV Outdoor Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to


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