They discover that birds steal fox fur while they sleep to line their nests – National Geographic in Spanish

Certain species of birds take advantage of the naps of foxes and other animals to steal their fur and build warmer nests.

Birds generally build their nests close to their main food source. In this way, it is easier for them to bring food to their chicks. This task is exclusive to a short season in the year, in which the birds are dedicated solely to designing a safe space for their families. Pieces of cloth, branches, grass – these are all suitable scaffolding. Today, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois knows that they also use a peculiar material: fur from foxes and other living mammals.

samples very nourished of fur

The behavior was recently observed in the northern United States. According to ecologist Jeffrey Brawn of the University of Illinois, this strategy ensures that the nests are warm spaces for eggs before hatching, like a natural incubator. Specifically, the specialist was astonished when he observed a bird chickadee stealing the fur of a live fox.

With the study, the team of researchers in charge of Brawn documented the process with several species. It turns out that these ‘thefts’ are not as uncommon as once thought. On the contrary, certain species of birds take advantage of the hours of sleep of furry animals to get a sample very nourished of his fur. Once the process is complete, they take it home and use it for their own benefit.

The behavior was specifically observed in the case of the tufted chickadee (Baeolophus bicolor), but biologists say it is a learned technique also by their closest relatives. In general, they get fox fur when the animals are asleep, but they also use the fur of other carnivorous mammals —regardless of whether the animals are dead or alive. The only common feature is that it happens when they shed their coats.

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Take advantage of the change of season

Bird thefts happen opportunistically. Birds take advantage of the change of season to steal the fur of foxes, as well as other larger predators, exactly when the animals shed more furand it is possible to take a sample more generous.

What surprised the scientists is that the animals do not seem bothered by this behavior. On the contrary, they don’t much care, says Brawn:

“This happened to a live raccoon with claws and teeth. And the raccoon didn’t seem to care because he didn’t even wake up », detailed the expert after a casual sighting.

According to the biologist, the problem is that the Existing documentation so far of these behaviors is from amateur observers. Scientific research, by contrast, is scant. Despite this, from the study, Brawn and his team assure that the benefit that the birds do not only have to do with building a warm nest.

They think it is possible that the fur helps repel certain parasites that can seriously harm the young, according to the article published in ecology. From the geographical analysis of each species, the scientists hope to find more motivations of the species to steal the hair of foxes, dogs, horses and other species while they sleep.

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They discover that birds steal fox fur while they sleep to line their nests – National Geographic in Spanish


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