Deborah Waller, Old Dominion University.
“Anting” is a widespread behavior among bird species and mammals. Due to the various characteristics of this behavior, numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain it. This behavior can be classified as “active”, in which birds take a bill full of ants and rub them into their feathers, or “passive” when birds let ants wander through their plumage. The hypotheses state that anting may be performed as an (1) antiparasitic behavior, for (2) feather grooming, as a way of (3) food preparation or to (4) decrease skin irritation during molt, even as a (5) sensory stimulation tool. This review compiles several anting observations and provides suggestions for future research.
Flores, Helena, "Hypotheses Related to Anting by Birds" (2023). 2023 REYES Proceedings. 7.