This species and its two close relatives, the variable pitohui and the brown pitohui, were the first known poisonous birds. A neurotoxin found in the birds' skin and feathers causes numbness and tingling in those touching the bird.
The hooded pitohui gets its poison from part of its diet, the Choresine beetles of the Melyridae family. These beetles are also a likely source of the lethal batrachotoxins found in Colombia's poison dart frogs.
References[change | change source]
- Dumbacher J.P. et al 2004. Melyrid beetles (Choresine): a putative source for the Batrachotoxin alkaloids found in poison-dart frogs and toxic passerine birds. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101 (45): 15857–15860.