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Urban sparrows find new use for cigarette butts


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PARIS: Cigarette butts are widely reviled as an urban nuisance but birds in Mexico City see them as a boon, apparently using them to deter parasites from their nests, scientists say.

Local sparrows and finches incorporate smoked cigarette butts in their nests to provide cosy cellulose lining for their chicks and nicotine to ward off mites, they believe.

A team led by Constantino Macias Garcia at the National Autonomous University monitored 57 nests and found that the tally of bugs declined as the number of smoked butts in each nest increased.

Sparrow nests had between none and 38 used butts, with an average of eight per nest, and finch nests between none and 48, with an average of 10.

The behaviour is an intriguing example of how birds adapt to an urban environment, according to the study, which appears on Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters, published by Britain's Royal Society.

In non-urban settings, some birds line their nests with aromatic plants, which are thought to have antiparasitic properties or to stimulate the nestlings' immune system.

Nicotine, a byproduct of the tobacco plant, has also been used in some pest repellents for crops and in controlling poultry parasites.

Comments (7) Closed

rafsd Dec 05, 2012 07:37am
Raheel Adnan Dec 05, 2012 07:56am
Which depicts that 'research
aku Dec 06, 2012 06:36am
Subhan-Allah! The term "bird brain" is no longer valid.
Ahmar Qureshi Dec 06, 2012 06:41am
Allah has taught His creatures to opt the divine good! :-) Thank You!
gangadin Dec 05, 2012 06:36pm
So there you go, how big is sparrow's brain? Is there a lesson here for human beings? Yes. Live on this earth the way God wanted you to live. Animals are a good lesson for all of us.
Ara Dec 06, 2012 03:36am
Research is one of the tools, which makes us human. These birds are on the same path.
badsha Dec 06, 2012 06:03am
thats great.....