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Bizarre feather rituals

A) Anting is a well-known behaviour trait among passerine birds, and as many as 250 species have been recorded indulging in it. However, there are no substantiated observations of non-passerines, such as gamebirds, engaging in the activity.

Curiously, no-one knows for sure why the birds do it, though it clearly gives them pleasure, while it may also assist feather maintenance. It is thought that the formic acid that ants secrete may discourage ectoparasites in the bird?s plumage.

All gamebirds delight in dust bathing, which is also a form of feather care, and again something that these birds clearly enjoy. Another slightly bizarre form of the same behaviour is smoke bathing, when the bird deliberately visits a source of smoke, such as a chimney, and allows the smoke to permeate its feathers.