Anting in review: A three-year wait

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Reports | 9

Nature in Singapore, an on-line bulletin of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, has just published a review article on anting that is relevant to the local birding scene.

The anting phenomenon was first publicised to the local birding community in October 2005 when BESG posted a note by Kelvin KP Lim who observed it in 1988.

Until then, local birders were totally unaware of anting – use of ants by birds for feather maintenance. Since then, there have been more than a few observations, mainly by mynas.

This article was originally sent to Nature Watch, flagship of the Nature Society (Singapore) for possible publication. However, after nearly three years and having yet to receive any indication from the editor as to whether the document is accepted or rejected, I have totally lost hope of the article ever being published in that magazine.

I reluctantly came to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the contents could be a tad embarrassing to leaders of the local birding flock.

So on 29th July 2008, I revised the manuscript and submitted it to Nature in Singapore. What a breadth of fresh air! That very same day, I received an acknowledgment note from the editor, followed by a letter saying that the manuscript would be sent for review, and yet another note saying that the article has been accepted for publication. Wow! All within a day!

After languishing for nearly three years in the computer of Nature Watch’s editor, the article at last managed to see light of day in Nature in Singapore after only eight days. I would prefer it to appear within three days but what the hack! Eight days is so much better than three years.

Kudos to Nature in Singapore!

YC Wee
August 2008

In view of the article, the various posts on anting have been deleted. Anyone interested in reading the account can get a PDF copy HERE

Image of ants by Johnny Wee.


9 Responses

  1. David Robertson

    A good example of the ancient Latin motto:
    (Don’t let the bastards wear you down)

  2. …hear that?

  3. […] by binoculars-toting local birdwatchers in the past. And a vidoegrapher will one day document anting in birds that has so far evaded […]

  4. […] birds have their ways of dealing with ectoparasites, like anting, water bathing, sand bathing, sunning and preening. But not newly hatched chicks that are helpless […]

  5. […] more attention to bird behaviour. Two examples illustrate this best. The first is the phenomenon of anting, something that is well known in the west. Until we posted an account in 2005, even experienced […]

  6. […] is the phenomenon where birds make use of ants to rid their feathers of ectoparasites LINK. The ants release formic acid when aggravated, in this case when they are picked up and placed […]

  7. […] normal circumstances, birds may make use of ants in what is known as “anting” for this purpose LINK. But then there are instances when they make use of millipedes, snails, beetles and even discarded […]

  8. […] head below his wings or to the side of its body. I immediately realised that it was ‘anting’ SEE HERE. This went on for 10 minutes or so while I took some photos. As I was conducting a survey, I had to […]

  9. […] Within a day the manuscript was reviewed and the editor informed me that it will soon be published LINK. Anyone interested in a PDF of the paper, it can be downloaded […]


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