Aromatic herbs used by wild birds


 

Just been watching the BBC’s spring watch with Chris & Kate & found this clip really interesting, that wild birds are using aromatic herbs in their nests, this particular clip on the Pensthorp bluetits shows them bringing fresh mint leaves into the nest site. Chris has looked into this behaviour & found a study done by some french scientists, ¬†Mennerat and colleagues from France’s National Centre of Scientific Research, based in Montpellier, and the University of Toulouse.

They found that aromatic plants, including lavender (Lavandula stoechas), apple mint (Mentha suaveolens), the curry plant (Helichrysum itlaicum) andAchillea ligustica significantly change the composition of bacterial communities living on blue tit nestlings.

“They reduce the number of different bacterial species, and the total number of bacteria, especially on chicks that are most vulnerable because they are both highly infested by blow fly larvae and carry great amounts of bacteria on their skin,” says Mennarat.

“But blue tit chicks living in nests adorned with aromatic plants grew faster and had a higher proportion of red blood cells, which is known to be a strong indicator of a chick’s future chances of survival after fledging.”

“Much remains to be explained, however.”

You can read the BBC report of this on the bbc news website at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8199000/8199726.stm

Given how much work I have been doing with Jasper regarding self-selecting herb medications, it was really interesting to see other species using herbs in this beneficial way.

Would be great to hear what you think or if you have any evidence of other wild species using herbs.

With Love

Fiona & Jasper

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