Day 44 of 100 days of Blogging
It’s fishy Friday again but instead of focusing on just one bird, here are 10 facts about how birds eat fish and, for a change of pace, fish eat birds!
#1. There a quite a variety of birds that eat fish such as the ones that have been the topic of previous posts: herons, ospreys, cormorants and kingfishers and there’s even the fish eating owl! Others include mergansers,terns,penguins,eagles, anhingas, storks, gulls, gannets, pelicans and puffins.
#2. Birds use behaviours like plunge diving, surface diving, skimming the surface, spearing and stealing to catch fish. Since none of that describes the osprey’s talent for using its talons to snatch fish out of the water, lets add that to the list too!
#3. Fish-eating birds tend to have rear-facing hooks on their tongues to prevent fish from slipping away.
#4. Mergansers, specialized for eating fish, have sharp tooth-like structures on the edge of the bill to hold fish tightly.
#5. Pelicans use their pouches to scoop up fish.
#6. Fresh water Largemouth Bass will eat small birds (among other things).
#7. As if birds don’t have enough to worry about by looking out for cats, apparently there’s a species of catfish that preys on pigeons!
#8. Researchers discovered that African TIgerfish eat Barn Swallows skimming close to the surface of the water. These fish will jump out of the water to snatch the unsuspecting bird out of mid-air.
#9. Monkfish have a taste for seabirds. A huge variety of species have been found in monkfish stomachs including loons, grebes, cormorants, wigeons, scaups, scoters, merganser, herring gulls, alcids, and Manx shearwaters. Read an interesting article here which cites the original study.
#10. Sharks are known to eat seabirds such as young albatrosses still learning to fly. However, a recent study discovered that they feed on land birds as well. Migratory species that are disoriented by the lights on oil rigs have ended up in shark stomachs too. You can read more about the problem facing migrating songbirds and the shark study here.