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.


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.

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