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Did You Know

Posted by Grange Co-op on 3rd Apr 2014

Birds have many fascinating behaviors.  I ran across one while reading the other day called anting.  Anting is a feather cleaning method used by some birds whereby the birds either:  1) crush ants with their bills and wipe the crushed ants through their feathers, this is called active anting or 2) lie down on the ground on or near an anthill, with wings and feathers spread and let the ants crawl all over them, this is called passive anting.   It is believed in active anting that the acidic juices of the crushed ants help the birds ward off feather mites and other parasites and in passive anting the ants seek out and remove parasites from the bird’s plumage.  Over 200 bird species worldwide have been documented as engaging in anting behavior.   Among the North American species, the robin, crow, blue jay, cardinal, evening grosbeaks and purple finch have been known to use anting.   Some birds like flickers not only ant, but also consume the ants as an important part of their diet. Fascinating!  I’ll have to keep a look out for this behavior!