birds

Birds fuel up on superfoods before long migration flights

Friday, August 06, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: birds, superfoods, health news

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) Some birds radically change their diets just before their winter migrations, gorging themselves on antioxidant-rich berries to prepare for their long journeys, researchers have found.

"[The] results support the hypothesis that some migratory birds may actively select deeply-pigmented fruits as a signal for meals that are rich in antioxidants," researcher Navindra Seeram of the University of Rhode Island said. "These disease-fighting antioxidants may help the birds combat stress and inflammation that they experience during long flights."

"It has been known for some time, this phenomenon of birds switching to fruits in the fall," said study co-author Scott McWilliams, a bird researcher.

The phenomenon is particularly striking because sparrows, thrushes, warblers and other birds with beaks highly specialized for eating insects suddenly begin using them to pick berries instead. A single bird can consume up to three times its weight in berries per day -- the equivalent of a human being consuming more than 300 pounds-worth of food.

"They look clumsy and ridiculous," said migratory bird researcher David Bonter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Researchers initially assumed that the birds were merely attempting to consume as many calories as possible before migrating, and that they turn to berries because insects are becoming scarcer.

"But that didn't explain it enough," McWilliams said.

Then researchers realized that many migratory birds were selectively eating darker-skinned fruits, which are known to contain higher levels of many antioxidants. This led McWilliams and other scientists to suggest that the birds might be deliberately seeking out foods high in antioxidants, which would help protect their bodies from the stresses of migration.

"Whenever we exercise, we undergo oxidative stress, and the same is true for birds," McWilliams said.

"When I started studying birds during their migratory stopover on Block Island, I was impressed that most of the migratory birds ate berry fruits even though they usually eat insects or seeds at other times of the year," he said. "I began studying the relationship between the nutritional qualities of fruits and how those nutrients might fuel migration."

Then McWilliams saw an article about Seeram, a new member of the chemistry faculty.

"I saw the story about Navindra, and in it he was talking about oxidative stress and inflammation and the effects berry fruits can have on reducing those impacts on people," McWilliams said. "Our colleague is very much a biochemist. His field is looking for compounds in nature that might have human benefits."

McWilliams contacted Seeram, and they agreed to team up and conduct an analysis of the birds' favorite foods.

In the first phase of the study, graduate student Jessica Bolser spent months observing birds feeding on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. The researchers then collected ripe samples of 12 of the birds' favorite berries for analysis, including arrowwood, winterberry, bayberry, chokeberry and elderberry.

The birds' absolute favorite berry was arrowwood, which researchers found to be highest in antioxidants and pigments of all the berries tested. The fruit contained 650 percent more pigment than the average of the other 11 berries put together, and 150 percent more antioxidants.

"We know that a diet rich in antioxidants, like those found in fruits and vegetables, is good for human health," Seeram, PhD said. "As a chemist, I think it's fascinating to learn that migratory birds also seek out foods that are richest in antioxidants."

Seeram and McWilliams' colleagues immediately hailed the findings as new and significant.

"The whole twist of looking at the antioxidant qualities is novel," Bonter said.

"This study is one of the new generation of bird food studies that is ... not just looking at energy and protein but looking at micronutrients," said ecologist Douglas Levey of the University of Florida-Gainesville.

Seeram and McWilliams believe that the birds and the berries have probably co-evolved, with birds selectively eating the berries that provide the most antioxidants, then unintentionally repaying those plants by spreading their seeds far and wide through defecation.

"The smartest birds and the best berries seem to go hand-in-hand," Seeram said. "They need each other."

Further areas for study immediately suggested themselves. Bonter expressed interest in how the birds learn to seek out the darkest berries, noting that at the time of migration many birds have already left the nest and have no parents around to teach them.

"There must be some compounds in the fruit that serves as attractions," he said. "My guess is there are young birds testing a lot of fruit."

Bonter also wonders if a similar phenomenon might explain why many birds have different diets at their wintering grounds than they do during the rest of the year.

"Wintering birds do have a more omnivorous diet," he noted.

Because birds from all across the northern latitudes tend to pack into much smaller wintering grounds in the tropics, Bonter suggested, they probably undergo significantly more bodily stress. Analysis of their diets might find that these birds, too, are seeking out foods high in antioxidants.

Seeram and McWilliams noted that if more animals are found to selectively seek out antioxidant-rich foods, observing animal diets might eventually lead to the discovery of new useful chemicals.

"We've only measured a few of these antioxidants," Seeram said. "Our next step is to determine how birds can detect these compounds."

The two Rhode Island researchers have decided to continue their partnership.

"We're flying birds in wind tunnels to produce oxidative stress, and then we are going to see if antioxidants found in these berries alleviate that stress," McWilliams said.

Sources for this story include:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/birds-berr... http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-... http://www.indiatalkies.com/2010/03/migrator...

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.


Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...



GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Now Available at ShopNaturalNews.com

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Podcasts
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...

 

Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...

 

Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through NaturalNews.com, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at www.StorableOrganics.com



Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
GMOs
Quackwatch
Vaccines
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.