Cigarette Butts Protect Bird Nests
In nature, it seems, everything is good for something, no matter how disgusting. Mexican researchers have discovered that urban birds such as sparrows construct their nests our of cigarette butts in order to repel parasites such as mites. The researchers found that smoked cigarette “filter fluff” repelled nest parasites more than unsmoked cigarettes. I’m not sure it’s the nicotine, perhaps something even more noxious that forms during the burning.
“Overall, the paper presented convincing evidence that (1) parasites don’t like cigarette butts and (2) nests constructed from cigarette butts had fewer parasites.”
This is a great example of urban ecology–the way that many animals, often surprising ones, adapt to take advantage of the urban landscapes that humans have created. Another great example is the monkeys of Bangalore which use urban homes as fast food joints. And of course there have been various celebrated birds of New York.
Any examples you’ve noticed lately?