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Birds are loved by some, and despised by many. Birds are not the cuddliest of animals as they tend to be stubborn and frantic under stress. Since birds can easily escape any earthbound animal predator by flying, birds probably become convinced that they can do whatever they want. The manner in which birds treat many other animal species is indicative of their inherent rudeness and lack of respect for the territory of other species. For example, many bird species have been known to make use of termite nests for a variety of purposes. Not long ago a group of researchers ventured into the Amazon Rainforest in order to observe and report on the little known and ecologically significant relationship between birds and termites.


Apparently, there is something about termite nests that birds find fascinating. In South America, several different bird species have been found invading and claiming termite nests as their own. These birds clearly have little regard for the survival of termite colonies. In addition to using termite mounds as their own nesting sites, birds also use arboreal termite nests as perches, and a type of bird known as a barbet uses its beak to hammer through rigid termite mounds in search of food. Woodpeckers, trogons, and puffbirds use arboreal termite nests as roosting sites. The bird species commonly known as the swallow-tailed kite and the Channel-billed toucan use termite nests to catch reproductive termite alates while they fly away from their old colonies in order to establish new ones elsewhere. Some bird species will use termite nesting mounds as a podium for announcing their territorial claims to other animals. For example, the bird species known as Campo Miner will perch on termite mounds in order to perform a wing display that is meant to attract mates and to express dominance over a territory.


Do you think that the ecological relationship between termites and birds is significant enough to have a marked influence on the overall health and balance of the ecosystems in which they are found?


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