About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Who'd ever expect a bird to be poisonous?

The Hooded Pitohui is an orange and black songbird native to New Guinea that was first recorded in 1827, but held a secret that only began to be uncovered in 1989.

The video below explains how as a graduate student, Jack Dumbacher was scratched while handling the Hooded Pitohui. After he released them, he licked the wounds that the birds had caused, resulting in a swollen and numb mouth.

Confirmation from the locals and further investigation revealed the birds’ feathers and skin contained a toxin exactly the same as Colombia's poison dart frogs.

The Hooded Pitohui, Pitohui dichrous and its two close relatives, the Variable Pitohui and the Brown Pitohui, were the first documented poisonous birds. The birds are believed to aquire the neurotoxin by eating the Melyrid beetles (Choresine).

Hooded and Variable Pitohuis, close relatives of Old World Orioles, have evolved conspicuously orange-and-black plumage as a warning, similar to patterns of the colorful and poisonous Monarch butterflies.
You can view the video at: http://youtu.be/TjTOJ6zIbys


Anonymous said...

Fascinating!! We still have so much to learn about our friends in nature! It reinforces the fact that we must conserve, conserve, conserve our world's wonders.

Joy K. said...

Amazing. I learn so much by visiting here every day.

Greg Draiss said...

Beatiful bird thanks for the pictures