'Anting' as food preparation : formic acid is worse on an empty stomach

Judson, Olivia P. and Bennett, Andrew T. D. 1992, 'Anting' as food preparation : formic acid is worse on an empty stomach, Behavioral ecology and sociobiology, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 437-439.

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Title 'Anting' as food preparation : formic acid is worse on an empty stomach
Author(s) Judson, Olivia P.
Bennett, Andrew T. D.
Journal name Behavioral ecology and sociobiology
Volume number 31
Issue number 6
Start page 437
End page 439
Publisher Springer - Verlag
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 1992
ISSN 0340-5443
1432-0762
Summary Anting is a behavior common among passerine birds, yet its function is unknown. The behavior consists of a highly stereotyped set of movements which start when a bird picks up an ant, usually one which sprays formic acid as a defense, and sweeps it with frenzied motions through its feathers. The bird will often also eat the ant. As formic acid is toxic, we have tested the food-preparation hypothesis, that is, that the birds are anting to remove a distasteful or toxic substance from the ant before eating it. In a pair of experiments on starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, we have found evidence in support of this hypothesis.
Language eng
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©1992, Springer - Verlag
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30022781

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