Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bird Brained ?‏

Snowy egret fishing at FL dock

Snowy egrets are known to be very versatile in their fishing styles which involve a variety of different ways to catch fish by wading.  Their most famous technique is the "snowy shuffle" in which their bright yellow feet are used to scare up small prey which are then grabbed by the beak.  But all of these procedures involve wading, and a limitation to water no deeper than their legs. This young genius snowy figured out that it can fish in deeper waters from our dock, but a "snowy stoop" is involved to reach the surface of the water from the dock.  As I watched, this bird was successful in catching several small minnows. So "bird brained" is not a bad thing from the perspective of this ability to solve a problem with a new idea.  Indeed the future of birds within a rapidly changing world so profoundly affected by humans could be largely dependent on such flexibility in behavior.

Bill Dunson
Englewood, FL

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