As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 8 October 2012

On the wing: Birds eat the darndest things

Robins relish big, juicy earthworms, right? Well, how about the Elk River robin that visited a grape jelly feeder frequently this summer -- and not just for a sweet treat. He'd dunk a worm into the jelly, then gulp it down. The reader who sent this tale noted, "We enjoyed watching this epicure enjoying his gourmet meal."

We humans may have more rigid ideas about bird diets than birds themselves do. Many birds are eager learners when it comes to adding new items to their regimen. They watch each other, too, for clues about what's good to eat, which is probably how the robin caught on to the jelly. He'd seen an oriole or catbird slurping up the purple stuff and decided to try adding a condiment to his arthropod meal.

Other epicurean experimenters include some south Minneapolis crows that gathered at a back-yard picnic table for popcorn (unsalted) and fresh water. "They'd take the popcorn and either dump it into the water before eating it, or hold a kernel in their beaks and dunk it. This went on for 20 minutes and I was laughing out loud," writes a crow fan.


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