The feathers and skin of black pitohui birds may repel predators and ectoparasites thanks to a steroidal alkaloid chemical obtained in their diet.

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“From their diet of berries and insects, they store in their skin and feathers a steroidal alkaloid, homobatrachotoxin (found elsewhere only in poison-dart frogs). Bent Poulson is convinced that the storage of toxins in the skin and feathers is useful for deterring ectoparasites as well as predators. In laboratory tests, lice show far higher mortality on pitohui feathers than on nontoxic feathers; not surprisingly, they avoid feeding or even resting on them.” (Engel 2002:127)

Wild Health: How Animals Keep Themselves Well and What We Can Learn From ThemJanuary 16, 2002
Cindy Engel

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Living System/s

Black PitohuiPitohui nigrescensSpecies

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