We all have our favorite ointments, our special salves, to soothe our skin: aloe, calamine, petroleum jelly . . . ants.
The Blue Jay is a common bird with an uncommon habit: it catches ants and wipes them on its feathers. Although it's not entirely clear why the Blue Jay applies the ants, scientists suspect that acids the ants secrete reduce the skin irritation caused by molting. Another theory is that biting ants help lessen the discomfort that occurs when new feathers are growing. The presence of ants may even keep lice from taking up residence on a bird.