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 3 July 2017

Wild ducks caught on camera snacking on small birds - via Mike Playfair

By Helen Briggs BBC News

30 June 2017

This has never been documented before and is probably a new behaviour, say scientists.

Zoologists at the University of Cambridge filmed a group of mallard ducks hunting other birds on a reservoir in Romania.

Two fledglings - a grey wagtail and a black redstart - were chased and swallowed when they landed in the water.

Mallards are one of the most abundant types of wild duck, and a common sight in parks and on lakes.

The duck normally snacks on seeds, acorns, berries, plants and insects.

It has, on occasions, been seen to eat small fish, but bigger vertebrates are normally strictly off the menu.

Dr Silviu Petrovan noticed the unusual behaviour of a group of mallards while he was out bird watching with friends near a national park in southwest Romania.

He saw the adult female duck grab the grey wagtail in her beak, and repeatedly submerge it in the water, before eventually eating it.

A second bird - a fledgling black redstart - then landed in the water, where it was chased by juvenile mallard ducks.

"The poor bird landed on the water and was screaming and trying to navigate itself out of danger," said Dr Petrovan. "Then it was almost instantaneously attacked by the mallards."

The bird eventually disappeared - assumed to be drowned or consumed.

The scientists could find no record of mallard bird predation in the scientific literature, which suggests such behaviour is both "very rare" and newly-learned.


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