Friday, 24 July 2015

Ants in his pants

Something I have never seen before - a great tit aggravating the ants on the terrace this afternoon and letting them run onto its wings and tail.  Known as "anting", this is more common behaviour in blackbirds and thrushes - it is thought that the bird provokes the ants to squirt formic acid in order to kill off feather lice and mites.  This bird was there for at least five minutes.

Then another bird stopped by to watch what was going on.  It looks as though it could do with a bit of treatment itself.


  1. Second one's a bit of a mess! Terrific to see the pictures of anting.

  2. Is that the ear we see on the second (bald) one? He is indeed "a bit of a mess", seems to need more than an application of ants, he needs a full feather transplant.

    I appreciate your blog, was directed here by Rusty Burlew HoneyBeeSuite, in her reposting of your bee photo with the stamen packed in its pollen basket. (Rusty is sort of a neighbor -- maybe 15 miles apart).

    Many thanks,
    Glen Buschmann

    1. Thanks Glen. It is the bird's ear. I presume the feather loss on the head is just extreme moulting. There are a lot of similar tatty-looking great tits and blue tits around in the garden at present. I hope they smarten up soon.