This is my first time seeing a Grackle rubbing a sumac berry on its feathers. I watched several of these birds do this. I read that birds will rub ants (anting) on their feathers as a means of controlling parasites. Experts are not for sure why birds do this.
Anting is a habit in which birds rub insects, mainly ants, on their feathers and skin as a form of maintenance. The bird may use its bill to pick up insects and rub them on its body (active anting), or it may sleep in an area where there are a lot of insects and conduct dust bathing-like movements (passive anting).
Insects excrete liquids that contain compounds like formic acid, which can be used as an insecticide, miticide, fungicide, or bactericide. Anting might also make the insects appetizing by eliminating the unpleasant acid or supplementing the bird’s natural preen oil.
The only article I could find in reference to Sumac Berries was written by Laura Erickson: “They’ve been recorded anting with beetles, meal worms, pieces of lemon, orange juice, coffee grinds, vinegar, beer, hot chocolate, soapsuds, and sumac berries”.
How I Got The Photo:
Several of these birds were on a Sumac tree near the asphalt section of the auto tour road (Sandtown Bottoms) located at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.
I had my camera and lens resting on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup.
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon EF 800 mm f/11
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date and Time Taken: July 31, 2021 (8:07 A.M.)
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f11 (Fixed)
- Shutter speed: 1/1250
- ISO: 8000 (Auto)
- White Balance: Auto
- Metering Mode: Evaluative
- Back-button Focus
- Continues Animal Eye Auto Focus
- Exposure Compensation: 0
- Focal Length: 800 mm
- Processed With Luminar
Note: Someone shared a link on my Facebook post in reference to Common Grackle Anting with Lime Fruit and Its Effect on Ectoparasites