"Hot Stuff"

Subject: "Hot Stuff"
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 13:41:22 +1000 (EST)
On Fri, 22 Jun 2001, Terry Pacey wrote:
> It has been known for a long time that the birds on the Gold Coast are "Hot
> Stuff" but a sighting this morning simply proves the point.
> I was doing some strenuous birding from the back deck of my home.  A pair of
> Figbirds landed in a small chilli bush in the neighbours yard - the HOT
> kind.  The birds then proceeded to strip a number of the ripe chillies and
> devour them.  They then proceeded to fly off.  They seemed to be proceeding
> at a normal pace but I hope they found water - lots of it!

Birds are not sensitive to capsaicin, the chemical that makes chillies
hot.  Bird consumption of fruit and subsequent dispersal of seeds is
importnat to wild chillies.  All mammals tested have been found to
be sensitive to  capsaicin (anyone noticed marsupials grazing on their
chillis?).  This deters their consumption of the chilli's fruit which may
be beneficial to the chilli if mammals would be ineffective dispersers of
the seed.   This could be the case if mammals travelled shorter distances
before excreting the seeds, excreted the seed in unsuitable places  or
if the mammalian digestive system damaged the chilli's seeds.

Andrew Taylor

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