Anting, Cyanolyca turcosa, Diet, Ectoparasite removal, Self-anointing, Millipede, Preening, Ectoparasites


Self-anointing has been documented in birds worldwide, including corvids. In self-anointing (active anting), birds rub ants or ant substitutes, such as millipedes, over their feathers. The self-anointing behaviors exhibited by corvids may differ according to species, warranting a comprehensive investigation in this family. I report on a Turquoise Jay (Cyanolyca turcosa) self-anointing with a millipede. The jay rubbed the millipede on its upper and lower rump, and ventral rectrices. It also swept the millipede over the shoulder, wrist, leading primaries and wingtips. The jay repeatedly prodded and bit the millipede, probably agitating it to make it release defensive compounds. After the jay rubbed the millipede against its undertail coverts, an arthropod, possibly an ectoparasite, was observed on the millipede. The jay consumed the millipede, providing the first record of a millipede in the diet of this corvid. Self-anointing in Turquoise Jay might serve in ectoparasite removal and food preparation.

Author Biography

Jennifer Outlaw Coulson, Tulane University

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Adjunct Faculty


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