Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ants in his... feathers

We have a large ant's nest in our back yard.

The nest is about three feet across and a foot high.

Ants are a valuable part of the ecosystem, and since they don't bother anyone (thankfully north Idaho isn't known for fire ants), we leave them alone.

Their nest is busy enough on the surface when things are calm.

But poke 'em with a stick, and they instantly swarm defensively over the foreign object.

So imagine our surprise this morning when the girls noticed a starling standing smack-dab on top the ant's nest, gobbling ants as fast as he could.

The starling hopped and bobbed and snatched at his breakfast.

But every few seconds he contorted himself into a funny shape as he picked or brushed the swarming ants off him.


...and pick.


...and pick.


...and again.

Talk about ants in his pants! Er, feathers! That's a brave bird.


  1. It might be that he wanted (to eat) the ants badly enough to put up with them crawling on him, or he may have been "anting". I remember reading about this a couple of years ago, while homeschooling my youngest. Some birds will purposely take an "ant bath" - scientists speculate that it may have to do with getting rid of other parasites, it may actually feel good, or they may be getting formic acid from the ants to repel other critters.

    This may not be the best link, but there's more info here -


  2. Lady Lewis,
    Your ability to capture nature with your camera has always brought me joy and often, made me wonder if you were a ninja but this is truly awe inspiring.

    I realize that you and the children are, almost always, within voice range of each other but the fact that you could catch something like this for the rest of us to see is...frankly, amazing

    1. You can actually thank the girls for noticing this bird and calling him to my attention. All I did was stand at the window and snap pix.

      - Patrice

  3. Here in south Alabama I would have let them destroy the carcass before I had to kill the mound. Fireants are a curse.