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Blue tits use 'aromatherapy' to disinfect nests.

Byline: ANI

London, August 16 (ANI): A new study has revealed that birds called blue tits use "aromatherapy" to disinfect To remove the virus code that has attached itself to a legitimate file. Sometimes, the antivirus program cannot untangle the code, and the infected file has to be deleted. See quarantine.  their nests.

These birds have been found to line their nests with aromatic plants like mint or lavender, which kill bacteria.

The study suggests that doing so helps the birds create more sterile environment for chicks, which, in turn, grow faster and have a better chance of survival.

However, individual blue tits are quite picky about which plants they use, and the study has yet not explained how they pass their knowledge on to other birds.

On Corsica, according to a report describing the study, blue tits also incorporate fresh fragments of aromatic plants, including lavender, mint and curry plants, into their nests.

"We hypothesised that aromatic plants used by blue tits had some anti-parasite properties, because most of these plants, or close species of the same genus, are traditional Mediterranean plants with well-known medicinal properties," the BBC BBC
 in full British Broadcasting Corp.

Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927.
 quoted Adele Mennerat, a biologist now at the University of Bergen The University of Bergen (Universitetet i Bergen) is located in Bergen, Norway. Although founded as late as 1946, academic activity had taken place at Bergen Museum as far back as 1825. The university today caters for more than 16,000 students.  in Norway, as saying.

Working with collaborators from France's National Centre of Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Foundation
The formation of the University of Toulouse was imposed on Count Raymond VII as a part of the Treaty of Paris in 1229 ending the crusade against the Albigensians.
, Mennerat initially tested whether these plants deterred blow fly larvae that commonly live in tit nests and feed on chicks' blood, significantly damaging their health.

"Despite repeated attempts we could never find any effect of these plants on blow fly infestation infestation /in·fes·ta·tion/ (-fes-ta´shun) parasitic attack or subsistence on the skin and/or its appendages, as by insects, mites, or ticks; sometimes used to denote parasitic invasion of the organs and tissues, as by helminths. . So we tested the effects of these plants on the bacteria living on birds," Mennerat says.

Writing about their findings in the journal Oecologia, the researchers said that aromatic plants, including lavender (Lavandula stoechas), apple mint (Mentha suaveolens), the curry plant (Helichrysum Helichrysum

genus in the plant family Asteraceae; in southern Africa H. argyrosphaerum contains an unidentified toxin which causes blindness and paresis resulting from degenerative lesions in the brain. In Australia H.
 itlaicum) and Achillea ligustica, significantly changed the composition of bacterial communities living on blue tit nestlings.

"They reduce the number of different bacterial species, and the total number of bacteria, especially on chicks that are most vulnerable because they are both highly infested in·fest  
tr.v. in·fest·ed, in·fest·ing, in·fests
1. To inhabit or overrun in numbers or quantities large enough to be harmful, threatening, or obnoxious:
 by blow fly larvae and carry great amounts of bacteria on their skin," says Mennarat.

The researcher admitted that it was yet to be found out as to how volatile compounds produced by the aromatic plants kill the bacteria.

However, Mennerat said, blue tit chicks living in nests adorned with aromatic plants were found to grow faster and had a higher proportion of red blood cells Red blood cells
Cells that carry hemoglobin (the molecule that transports oxygen) and help remove wastes from tissues throughout the body.

Mentioned in: Bone Marrow Transplantation

red blood cells 
, a strong indicator of a chick's future chances of survival after fledging.

Mennerat suspects that living in a disinfected Disinfected
Decreased the number of microorganisms on or in an object.

Mentioned in: Isolation
 nest enables the chicks to allocate less energy to their immune systems and more to growing physically.

"One of the most unexpected findings we got was that female blue tits display individual preferences in their use of aromatic plant species," she says.

"For example, in a territory with big bushes of lavender, for some reason blue tits at this site still collect mint that can only be found far away from their nests. We still don't know why and how blue tits have such individual preferences," she adds.

The researchers are also keen to discover how these personal aromatic preferences are passed on between birds. (ANI)

Copyright 2009 Asian News International The Asian News International (ANI) agency provides multimedia news to China and 50 bureaus in India. It covers virtually all of South Asia since its foundation and presently claims, on its official website, to be the leading South Asia-wide news agency.  (ANI) - All Rights Reserved.

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Aug 16, 2009
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