Friday, February 5, 2010

Lucky strike with Cuckoo-shrike

Seeing few White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes (Coracina papuensis) at present so got lucky catching one battering unidentified prey - probably a tree cricket - against branch in Tyto Wetlands yesterday. Many insectivores go to some effort to smash wings off their prey. This bird surprised by not bothering to de-wing catch before downing it in one gulp.



Another unlikely catch came today with White-throated Honeyeater (Melithreptus albogularis). Bird persisted in feeding from Euodia flowers in spite of much harassment from a pair of proprietorial Brown-backed Honeyeaters. White-throateds only rarely venture into Tyto, though they are common enough in some town gardens. Less common is the odd upright pose of above bird. Picture best of a bad lot.


Also best of bad series - because taken from distance - shot of Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) with wings at full upward stretch upon takeoff in Tyto today. Lovely play of light and subtlety of blacks drew me in to this picture.

3 comments:

mick said...

Hi Tony, I found it interesting that you said many insectivores smash the wings off their prey. Do you know which species do this - and why these species and not others?

Sebastian said...

Insect wings are made from chitin I believe and would surely have little nutritional value. From memory it's a substance similar to cellulose, so it may not even be digestible. Don't quote me on that though!

Tony, nice shot of the White-throated Honeyeater. Those little guys are tricky to photograph!

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Mick: No expert, but seems to me most birds discard insect wings. Thanks to Sebastian for clue to why. Not much nutrient value.