Falcons Trap Live Birds to Keep Them Fresh for Later Meals

(Photo: Abdeljebbar Qninba)

Mogador is an island off the coast of Morocco. In 2014, Abdeljebbar Qninba, a biologist at Mohammed V University in Rabat observed falcons capturing smaller birds, plucking off their tail and wing feathers, then storing them in holes in rocks for later consumption.

Although scientists have seen birds storing dead animals for later meals, this is the first time that anyone has seen birds stocking live animals. New Scientist consulted other biologists on the reported behavior:

“I haven’t heard of anything like it in [non-human] vertebrates,” says Theodore Stankowich at California State University in Long Beach. “Perhaps this innovation of simply immobilising prey prior to caching has caught on and spread through the population.”

“Given the right circumstances – prey availability and habitat for storing the prey – it is reasonable to see how this behaviour could evolve,” says Michael Steele at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.

-via Adam Koford

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