Birds and 'Anting'

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
DonW
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Birds and 'Anting'

Postby DonW » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:46 am

I am reading a book by a Tony Soper 'Everyday Birds'. In it he mentions about blackbirds and their picking up ants and putting them in amongst their feathers. I have read the reasons as to why they do it and can go along with that reasoning. When I was living in NZ I used to watch starlings and they appeared to be doing the same thing. I never knew what it was they were picking up but now I realise it might have been ants. Has anybody seen similar behaviour with starlings or other birds?
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kengeorge
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby kengeorge » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:08 am

I haven't seen the blackbirds picking up ants but I have seen one lying flat on the ground with it's wings spread out, there was short grass covering on the ground. I thought it was injured or sick so went over to it and it flew into a nearby tree, seemed to be no problems. About half an hour later I noticed the same bird back in the same spot lying in the same way, and again went to investigate, and again it flew off, seemingly healthy. It was then I noticed that there were ants moving around in the grass where the bird had been lying. I'd heard of the 'anting' idea so assumed that was what the blackbird was doing.
Ken
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David Riddell
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby David Riddell » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:20 am

I saw a thrush doing this about seven years ago - see viewtopic.php?f=3&t=901&p=3820, also a couple of photos at viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2208 showing magpies that may be anting. A little out of the area, but last month I was in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and saw a spotted dove (native to Singapore) doing it.
Spotted dove anting, Singapore Botanic Gardens.jpg
Spotted dove anting, Singapore Botanic Gardens.jpg (304.13 KiB) Viewed 1699 times
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Steps
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby Steps » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:16 am

Our captive kakariki would sit in amongst or in a ant trail. The ants would go thru the feathers , then they would go to the perch and start to preen feathers.
Think had something to do with mite/ insect control, more more likely control than cure in captivity where mites are not an issue due t0 regular vinegar/ herb (in particular manuka sprig and mint availability.)
In several cases ants would have a nest in the joins of nesting boxes.. never worried the birds or chicks. Having CCTV in a nesting box on one of these it appeared the hen also made use of the ants there to.
Did wonder at the time if some of the hens would pick up ants and take back to the nest.
Observations made within 2m meters of the birds
http://www.kakariki.net
My Spelling is NOT incorrect, it's Creative
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zarkov
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby zarkov » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:17 pm

Maybe it's something to do with the formic acid that ants carry.

If you preened yourself with an ant it would probably get rid of other bugs.
helinnmae
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby helinnmae » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:51 am

Jon young in what the robin knows describes crows in North America doing this, rolling on an anthill so the the annoyed insects release formic acid on their feathers to drive off lice.
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Fri Dec 20, 2019 5:47 pm

Watched a pair of tomtits a couple of months ago that appeared to be anting. If not anting, maybe just sunbathing. Whatever they were doing, they pull the funniest expression.
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Charlotte
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby Charlotte » Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:26 am

We have a resident Blackbird that has been doing this for the past couple of days, regularly. It sits on the ground, in the sunshine, wings somewhat option and it’s beak open. We assumed it was anting after reading this topic. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this from Blackbirds in the area.
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zarkov
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby zarkov » Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:49 am

Lots of birds doing it here at the moment, I thought it was more likely related to overheating.
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Charlotte
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Re: Birds and 'Anting'

Postby Charlotte » Sun Jan 26, 2020 9:00 am

zarkov wrote:Lots of birds doing it here at the moment, I thought it was more likely related to overheating.


I did wonder this as well, it was particularly hot here yesterday. But then, if they were overheating why continue to sit in the sunshine for long periods?

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