Australian Magpie "anting" or what?

To: <>
Subject: Australian Magpie "anting" or what?
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2020 10:13:16 +1100

What I sent last night appears to have not gone through yet. Maybe best just to call it sunning when that is what it is and leave the word anting to when there are ants. Easy. But they may be connected. This sunning behaviour (and certainly not just magpies) often has the birds in a sort of trance like behaviour. But then there are other things that will do that to a bird. “hypnotise chooks”. For example



From: Philip Veerman [ Sent: Friday, 23 October, 2020 10:16 PM   To: Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] Australian Magpie "anting"or what?


I think what has happened here is transfer of words. It is real sometimes that birds put ants on their plumage. And suggested for these reasons. So given the name “anting”. Sunning behaviour like that can involve the birds in doing similar looking things. Bird behaviour books can tend to describe these perhaps only slightly related things, together. So the word anting has sort of spread into behaviours that maybe look similar or maybe have similar benefits. Or that is my idea.




From: Birding-Aus [ On Behalf Of Penny Brockman   Sent: Friday, 23 October, 2020 1:53 PM    To: David Clark Cc: Charles Hunter via Birding-Aus
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Australian Magpie "anting"or what?


I remember seeing two magpies in my garden lying on the woodchip path in full sun, wings extended and bodies awkwardly on one side. Bills open and heads tilted. After a while they got up, closed wings and moved into the shade, presumably to cool down. This I believe helps control lice. 



Penny Brockman



On Thu, 22 Oct 2020, at 11:32 PM, David Clark wrote:

I have often seen Magpies lying flat out on the ground.  On the occasions when my approach caused the Magpie to depart, I have checked the location and never once have I seen ants.


The common factor with all instances I have observed is full and bright sunshine.






On Wed, Oct 21, 2020 at 9:57 PM Penny Brockman <> wrote:





Penny Brockman



On Wed, 21 Oct 2020, at 5:28 PM,  wrote:

For years I’ve been watching magpies in Blackheath, regardless of the temperature, mild or red-hot, lying down in a sort of trance-like state. But they are alert. Someone somewhere mentioned that they are “anting”. Any published papers and evidence available on what they are actually doing?




David Jackson

<BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
<BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Australian Magpie "anting" or what?, Philip Veerman <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU