June 16, 2021

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Photographer Captures Rare Sight of Crow Taking an Ant Bathtub

Photographer Tony Austin was at the tail-conclusion of a 3-hour mother nature stroll not too long ago when a murder of crows landed nearby. When one particular of the crows started out “acting surprisingly,” Austin began photographing it.

“It would type of flap its wings on the ground and then hop into the air and disappear into the foliage on the facet of the gravel road, and then hop back again on to the gravel,” Austin tells NPR. “And I couldn’t comprehend what it was accomplishing.

“Only the 1 was having this grime bath, which I imagined was pretty appealing. The many others ended up strolling all around hunting at it. They had been certainly pretty intrigued in what was heading on, but they didn’t seem alarmed.”

When Austin reviewed the photographs on his significant computer system check at dwelling, he was stunned to find that the crow had ants crawling all above its body — it experienced been taking an ant tub. He then shared the photograph on Facebook, and some fowl photographers assisted put a title to the conduct: anting.

Anting is a servicing tactic birds use in which they intentionally invite ants or other insects on to their feathers and skin. Oftentimes the hen will lie down in a site included with the insects and do certain poses when the bugs are swarming its entire body. This is identified as passive anting, and this is what Austin noticed and photographed.

When there are documented observations of anting habits, researchers nevertheless aren’t accurately certain why birds engage in it. Theories incorporate the birds getting rid of parasites, grooming their feathers, preparing the insects for use, using enjoyment in the sensations, and stimulating feather growth for molting.

Austin, a Victoria, British Columbia-primarily based photographer who is relatively new to nature and wildlife pictures, feels privileged to have witnessed and captured this comparatively scarce sight.

“It’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” Austin tells CBC. “You always hope for a shot like that, but it does not occur all over also often.”

You can discover additional of Austin’s operate on his website and Facebook.


Graphic credits: Photos by Tony Austin and applied with authorization