Anting is a widespread but poorly understood behavior in which birds apply ants or other organisms or objects to their plumage or skin. I observed two instances of active anting in the ‘Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis), a monarch flycatcher endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, one involving a garlic snail (Oxychilus alliarius) and the second involving a fruit of Brazilian pepper or Christmas berry (Schinus terebinthifolius). On both occasions the ‘Elepaio held the object in its bill and wiped it on its body then preened, but did not eat the object. Chemical compounds contained in each species are known to have antibiotic properties, suggesting the purpose of the anting was to control parasites or pathogens. There are no native ants in Hawaii, and neither the garlic snail nor Brazilian pepper is native to Hawaii.
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Vol. 76 • No. 2