[Tweeters] Re: Tweeters - Anting behavior in birds

Jim Greaves lbviman at blackfoot.net
Mon Feb 15 13:22:07 PST 2010

Sorry. Off-topic.

At 02:17 PM 2/15/2010, Jim Greaves wrote:

>I've observed Northern flickers "anting". Otherwise, I watched a

>pair of Least Bell's vireo at a nest at the Fillmore Fish Hatchery

>in early 2000's "anting", as they tried to keep ahead of the

>Argentine ants that had invaded a nest about to fledge; one chick

>jumped the nest and was "consumed", but the others survived, only

>AFTER I'd sprayed the ground and base of shrub with ant poison to

>stop the invasion. Net result: 3 of the 4 nestlings survived to

>leave the nest, relatively unharmed. Any who don't like the idea of

>what I did are entitled to their opinions. No one else was there to

>help "each member" of this endangered species survive that day

>[recall the mantra of the Condor Recovery Team] - Jim Greaves,

>Thompson Falls MT


>At 01:00 PM 2/15/2010, tweeters-request at mailman2.u.washington.edu wrote:

>>Message: 9

>>Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 19:47:04 -0800 (PST)

>>From: Gary Wiles <wilesharkey at yahoo.com>

>>Subject: [Tweeters] RFI: Observations of anting behavior in birds

>>To: Tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>

>>Message-ID: <386117.3680.qm at web112604.mail.gq1.yahoo.com>

>>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii


>>Hi Tweeters,


>>During the Olympia Christmas bird count, Kelly McAllister and I

>>came across a flock of starlings performing "anting" behavior at an

>>active ant mound. Anting involves birds picking up and rubbing

>>ants through their plumage, or standing over ants and allowing them

>>to crawl into their plumage. Formic acid from the ants may provide

>>some benefit to the birds, such as feather maintenance or control

>>of ectoparasites, or the birds may simply be trying to rid the ants

>>of formic acid before eating them. It's a widespread but

>>apparently uncommon behavior among birds in eastern North America

>>and other parts of the world. Kelly and I have been working on a

>>short article documenting our observation. Interestingly, our

>>background reading suggests that anting has't been previously

>>reported in the Pacific Northwest. We therefore want to ask

>>readers of Tweeters if they could contact me

>>(wilesharkey at yahoo.com) with any personal observations of anting behavior that

>> they may have for Washington, Oregon, or BC. This may give us a

>> better feel for how common this behavior is in the region. We're

>> interested in knowing the bird species and number of individuals

>> involved, location, month or season of the year, and other details

>> you may recall. Thanks!


>>Gary Wiles


>>wilesharkey at yahoo.com

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