MQ friend Sarah Ross sent us some urban habitat news–birds in Mexico City are using cigarette butts to line their nests. According to recent research, the birds (house sparrows, among other species) use the nicotine laced fibers of the discarded butts to repeal insects and pests from their nests.

Birds are known to line their nests with aromatic plants such as lavender and mint to create a pleasing, pest free environment for their young. Tobacco plants produce nicotine as a defense mechanism from pests. City birds with less access to fresh vegetation have turned to what is available in the surrounding landscape–discarded filters from smoked cigarettes. Researchers found that only smoked cigarettes would do because of the larger amount of nicotine and thus, greater pest repellent.

Birds and mammals use available materials to shape their homes–the intersection of the built environment and the wild environment is full of resourcefulness.

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