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Do robins use insects to clean their feathers?

Question: Do robins use insects to clean their feathers?

(Posted by: on 2012-03-25 22:32:50)

I watched a robin in the garden apparently cleaning its feathers with what looked like a centipede. It would pick the centipede up in its beak, rub it through its feathers and then drop it. The centipede would wriggle a bit and then the robin would pick it up again and repeat the process. This happened about a dozen times. Never seen that behaviour before; is it common?


Posted by: Isaac on 2012-03-25, 22:35:42

LMAOOO I LOVE YOU!!!! I don't think that's normal for the robin to do that but it sure is smart because the robin will probably attract more bugs a.k.a food. But yeah some of us life forms are just really weird and do stuff like that..just because lol


Posted by: Johnny on 2012-03-25, 22:50:19

I don't think so, may some kind of parasite, make the robin feel not well


Posted by: Wandering Soul on 2012-03-26, 04:14:05

I have never seen that behaviour before, I'm not sure how effective a wriggling centipede would be at cleaning feathers. Usually birds pick off parasites with their beaks. I do know that there is an insect, I think it's an ant, that sprays a chemical that is acidic, and some birds will come up on the nest and provoke them and then 'bathe' in the spray, splaying and spreading their wings, in an attempt to get rid of parasites.


Posted by: champer on 2012-03-28, 03:10:08

I've seen birds use ants for this purpose. An irritated ant will spray formic acid, which is excellent for removing parasites etc. Robins are bright birds, perhaps this one was experimenting to see if it did the same thing. Or maybe it was simply trying to break the insect up into more manageable portions.


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