Type that phrase (“anting turkeys”) into google and you’re likely to get “did you mean hunting turkeys?” No, of course not, I meant exactly what I typed — are wild turkeys one of the birds that use anting behavior to cleanse themselves of parasites? And yes, they are. (Read more about this behavior in Bird Watching Daily.
Over 200 bird species have been observed to search out areas where ants are likely to be found, immerse themselves in the dirt and dust there, and fluff their feathers as if they were bathing. With a big bird like a turkey, it’s quite a show.
And the reason for this behavior — ants release formic acid as a deterrent to being disturbed or threatened, and formic acid turns out to be a relatively good miticide (i.e., insecticide for mites).
“But that’s not the end of the story. The ants having released their toxic chemical are now fair game to be eaten, and provide some nutrition if a bird eats enough of them. So, as the bird preens its feathers after its ant dust bath, it can safely consume any stray ants it comes across — sort of like a dessert menu item. And this was quite nicely proven in an experiment by two Cornell biologists (in 2009) who observed that Blue Jays ate 90% of the ants that had been relieved of their formic acid, but engaged in anting behavior instead with ants that were intact (containing their sacs of formic acid).” (Backyard Biology, May 5, 2016)