[CT Birds] birds and peppers

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Thu Sep 2 11:59:48 EDT 2010

As Paul noted (a few days ago - I've been gone for the International Ornithological Congress and am just catching up!), birds do not respond to capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers hot) in the same way as mammals.  In fact, birds are the main disperser of pepper seeds in the wild, and the presence of capsaicin in peppers is thought to have evolved specifically to aid dispersal by preventing (well, discouraging, at least) mammals from eating the fruits.  This is because seeds get destroyed in mammal guts, but not in bird guts, so the plants benefit if eaten by birds, but are harmed when eaten by mammals.

There's an interesting research article, from the journal Nature, on the topic here:


Chris Elphick

Storrs, CT

elphick at sbcglobal.net

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