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Urban birds develop a taste for cigarette...butts!
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Urban birds develop a taste for cigarette...butts!

Urban birds must do with whatever materials are available to build their nests. The house finch and the house sparrow, common in many North American cities, line their nests with cellulose from discarded cigarette butts. Apart from potentially providing thermal insulation, smoked cigarette butts retain nicotine and other compounds that may repel arthropods. Authors found that the more cellulose was found in a nest, the fewer mites it contained, and this was confirmed by an experiment using thermal traps. Apparently, using cigarette butts is an urban way of dealing with the old problem of keeping the nest free of parasites.

The study has been published in Biology Letters by two of our "remote" group members: Constantino Macias and Isabel Lopez-Rull. 




  • Male house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)