Tony Austin, a photographer, was gifted an Instamatic 126 in 1963 and has been enthralled by photography ever since. However, he was really unprepared for what he was about to encounter at a recent nature walk. Austin didn’t spot anything that’s particularly interesting, so was getting ready to pack up for the day. At that moment, he came across a murder of crows. What he witnessed was an extremely rarer sight, which is a crow taking an ant bath.
The crow was laying on an anthill, and let the ants swarm up its feathers. This phenomenon is known as ‘anting’. Many birds practice wanting, where they usually put a wing on the ground, letting the ants climb onto its feathers while sitting on a tree branch. While this is called ‘active anting’, what Austin photographed is even rarer.
In this case, an ant sits on an anthill, allowing so many ants to swarm it at once. Every now and then, the crow will shake his head to ensure that the ants aren’t getting on its head and beak. This action is called ‘passive anting’. The scientific reason behind wanting is still unknown.
Austin failed to realize what this unusual behavior was till he got home. He states that he observed one bird be taking a dust bath, which he found to be a little odd. He explains that the bird would leap into the air and again jump onto the dirt path. None of the other crows seemed to take note of this behavior, and later all of them flew to some trees. Austin didn’t notice the ants till he started editing the photos.
Austin only realized the magnitude of his photos when he shared them on Facebook. The success of the photos was truly a pleasant surprise for him.
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