Anting is a curious phenomenon that is not totally understood. Many species of songbirds have been observed picking up ants and rubbing the ants on their feathers. Occasionally birds will spread themselves out on an anthill and move around to encourage the ants to crawl onto their feathers.

No ones knows for sure why anting occurs. The most accepted proposition is that the secretions the ants might use for stinging, when applied to feathers, might serve as an insecticide, fungicide or bacteriaside. Others suggest that the ant fluids might supplement the birds own preening oils.

There remains much to learn about anting. If you are fortunate enough to observe this behavior you might wish to take detailed notes and report your sightings to a local ornithologist or to We'll send your report on to interested parties.


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