Common Blackbird anting?

To: "Canberra Birds" <>
Subject: Common Blackbird anting?
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2011 19:00:00 +1100

At 0610 hours today I stood gazing out the back door, taking in the cool and quiet of the morning. It was a little cloudy, and I doubt if the sun had peeked over the horizon so light was still quite gloomy; what the bush people used to call piccaninny daylight. A male Common Blackbird landed on an ants’ nest which appeared about three months ago in an area covered with river stones. The mound is now about 50 cm in diameter. I don’t know what kind of ants they are; probably quite common hereabouts; individuals are 10 mm long, black and amber. I wonder if they will become a pest? Should I remove them? So far they’ve been given a reprieve because they’re interesting things to watch.

Anyhow, the blackbird appeared to peck at the ants, but whether  it was eating or depositing them in its plumage, I couldn’t tell. Every ten seconds the bird squatted briefly with rectrices spread. This leads me to think it may have been anting, although I’ve never witnessed this behaviour in Australia. HANZAB mentions Common Blackbirds eating ants in Australia and NZ but not anting.
After three minutes I opened the screen door to get a better view and the bird left.


John Layton


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