Lecturer: It’s still pretty unclear how anting behaviour benefits birds. None of the theories proposed in the reading is really convincing. The main argument in favour of the first theory is the timing. Birds engage in anting in the summer, and they change their feathers in summer as well. And so it seems that one is related to the other, but maybe there’s a completely different reason why birds engage in anting during the summer. You see, ants are more active during the summer and it’s much easier for birds to find them then than during other seasons. Maybe the simple reason why we see birds’ anting during the summer is that birds are simply able to find many more ants during the summer than at any other time. The fact that birds also happen to change their feathers during the summer could be just a coincidence. Second, the theory that formic acid that’s released during anting protects birds from harmful parasites. Well, if this was the case, we would expect birds that engage in anting to have fewer parasites, like mites, or ticks than birds that don’t engage in anting, but research shows, that this is not the case. Birds that engage in anting do not seem to have significantly fewer parasites. Third, it seems doubtful that by rubbing ants on their feathers birds are preparing the ants for eating them later. You see, this behaviour of rubbing stuff on their feathers is quite instinctive, and birds engage in it even if the things they’re rubbing are completely unsuitable for eating. For example, birds have been observed to pick up things like pieces of cigarettes or, pieces of soap and rub them on their feathers, and they certainly didn’t eat any of that stuff later, so it seems that this behaviour of rubbing things like ants on feathers is not related to eating.