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I studied the effects of ants on bird foraging in trees near colonies of the wood ant Formica aquilonia. Ants were experimentally excluded from half the trees I watched by applying a chemical repellent to their lower trunks. Birds which foraged for insects on the bark or foliage of trees (tits, warblers, woodpeckers and treecreepers) visited the trees without ants more frequently, and for longer time periods, than the trees with ants. Pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca, which used the trees solely as perches for sallying away after flying insects, visited the trees with ants more frequently. Food resources were found to be lower in the trees with ants, indicating that ants partially excluded birds by means of exploitative competition.
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