Mon Dec 10, 2012, 04:51 AM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
Birds Use Butts In Nests to Deter Parasites
Urban birds are incorporating cigarette butts into their nests for bug-killing action and for insulation, a new study finds.
The discovery, published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, helps to explain why so many avian nests include cigarette butts in their construction.
"The amount of cellulose acetate from butts in nests of two widely distributed urban birds was negatively associated with the number of nest-dwelling parasites," the authors wrote. "Moreover, when parasites were attracted to heat traps containing smoked or non-smoked cigarette butts, fewer parasites reached the former, presumably due to the presence of nicotine."
"Birds are known to respond to nest-dwelling parasites by altering behaviors," the authors added. "Some bird species, for example, bring fresh plants to the nest, which contain volatile compounds that repel parasites."
The cigarette butts were also found to insulate nests, making conditions cozier for the studied birds: the house finch and the house sparrow. Other birds likely use cigarette butts too, but these happen to be the two species selected for the study.
8 replies, 1153 views
Birds Use Butts In Nests to Deter Parasites (Original post)
|Sassie Lassie||Dec 2012||#1|
|Bernardo de La Paz||Dec 2012||#3|
Response to Sassie Lassie (Reply #1)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:37 AM
jerseyjack (1,361 posts)
7. Your first sentence is accurate. 2nd one, no so much.
Second sentence implies the birds can differentiate between insulating properties of material. To the bird, the butt looks like part of a twig or branch and belongs in the nest. It is light in weight so up it goes. That it also has insulating and eliminates insects is beside the point to the bird.
Response to jerseyjack (Reply #7)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:52 AM
cactusfractal (275 posts)
I haven't seen a study comparing hatchling survival rates among birds using cigarette butts v. "non smokers". In what passes for bird consciousness, you're right. But behaviors alter over time, and we've been smoking in urban areas and casually discarding butts for many bird generations.
So while your statement is correct that the insulative/pest deterrent properties of butts are "beside the point" to a bird gathering nesting material, one cannot discount programmed behaviors. The bird need not "know" why chicks are more likely to survive (if indeed they are) in a Virginia Slims-lined nest, but biology wins regardless of what the bird finds relevant to nest construction techniques.
Besides, pretty much everything is "beside the point" to a bird. They don't much grok, ya know?
Response to HiPointDem (Original post)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 05:05 AM
Bohunk68 (1,275 posts)
2. When I took classes for
Horticulture in college in the late 80's, one of the things we learned in Entomology class was that a cigarette in a gallon of water would make a great cheap and effective insecticide. If one looks at petunias and nicotiana, you will notice that bugs don't affect them. In fact, you will notice dead bugs on the leaves. It sure does work and I have always told people to do that process. For those that grow plants inside the house, it will also work on spider mites. Just sayin'.