Image: SCIENCE
Image: SCIENCE

Why would a moth use its proboscis to drink the tears from a sleeping bird's eye?

Ecologist Leandro Moraes, in a paper published in this month's Ecology Journal, says the moths may drink the tears of sleeping birds "as a supplementary method to obtain nutrients, mainly sodium and proteins."

Science Magazine reports, Moraes of the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil, was in the middle of a research expedition in central Amazonia when he spotted something strange: a black-chinned antbird (Hypocnemoides melanopogon) resting on a branch with an erebid moth (Gorgone macarea) on the back of its neck. The moth was probing one of the bird’s eyes with its proboscis and appeared to be drinking from it.

At one point in the video, the bird even opens its eye as the moth continues to feed.


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