Wednesday, March 24

an anting they will go

Early each spring there is one event that causes a bunch of excitement in our house....the spotting of the first robin in the yard.  Yesterday marked the occasion as we all ran to the window when someone yelled, "ROBIN!"
After confirming it was an accurate sighting and not some random bird, I grabbed my camera and zoomed in to catch the hardy bird hopping around the yard.  A robin is a somewhat reliable signal that spring is on its way.  He'll still hop around the yard even if we get our typical dumping of heavy spring snow.  And all I can say is YAY!

However, that wasn't the biggest surprise of the day.  It came only moments later when one of my daughters mentioned that robins love to go anting.  Anting?  Like eating ants?  Nope.  She went on to explain to all of us that robins will either pick the ants up with their bill and rub them into their feathers or they'll roll in the dirt and let the ants crawl over their feathers.  I thought she was teasing us and there was some giggling going on.  So, she got out her science book and read the section to us.  Sure enough!  She remembered the lesson well.  Robins do indeed enjoy anting and typically do it when they are molting.  The ants may relieve them from mites or parasites or perhaps the irritation that comes from the growth of new feathers.  

You never know what you'll learn within the walls of a homeschool home....

And yes, I'll keep my camera handy as I want to catch a robin when he's a'goin' anting!

Tammy ~@~


LaughingLady said...

Huh. In all my years of growing up in an avid bird-watching home (and hating every minute of it!), I don't ever remember hearing about this. VERY interesting!!

I've since shed my aversion to bird-watching and enjoy being able to look up and recognize the numerous species that reside in our area as well as those that pass through every year. I'll never be hard-core like my dad and watch the same bird for hours, but I don't hate it anymore!

Kim said...

This is wonderful information. Our family also heralds the arrival of a robin in the yard with much excitement. The kids will be thrilled to hear such interesting information, since we have had questions regarding an ants usefulness.
Thanks for passing along the information. Happy Spring to you and your family!

mom said...

Tammi, I love to watch the birds come to our feeders on the deck and will talk to the chickadee dee dees :-)

Happy spring to you, too, Kim! It's nice to see you :-)

FYI, other common birds who go anting are blue jays, cardinals, starlings, grackles, and tanagers. I have yet to find a picture of one in anting action, but I'm going to keep my eye on the robins in our yard this summer!

Tammy ~@~

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