A black woodpecker ‘passively anting’ in Hungary. (Wikimedia Commons/Francesco Veronesi)

A black woodpecker ‘passively anting’ in Hungary. (Wikimedia Commons/Francesco Veronesi)

The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar

Ant hills (nests) are abundant all over the dry, south or south-west facing slopes and dry roadsides in the Bulkley Valley. At present they are seething with activity as the workers repair, expand and build new nests.

While some ants may possess a venomous sting, most of ours give a somewhat painful bite. In doing so their jaws release a powerful acid called formic acid.

It is not unusual to see birds (e.g., crows) sitting ‘trance-like’ on an ant’s nest as ants crawl all over their bodies.

This behaviour is called ‘passive anting’. Other birds (northern flicker, robins) will actively pick up a live, or crushed, ant and use it to preen their feathers.

It is thought that the formic acid released by the ants helps to rid the bird’s feathers of lice, mites, and other parasites.



editor@interior-news.com

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