What to do when your prey refuses to be swallowed? Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia) in Hungary have a solution…
While browsing through the contents of the latest Waterbirds issue, my attention was caught be a short article. Csaba Pigniczki from the Kiskunság Bird Protection Society in Hungary reports a unique prey handling tactic by the Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia). In the abstract he paints a nice picture of the behavior:
A unique prey handling behavior of the Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) was observed at Büdös-szék, a soda pan near Pusztaszer, Hungary, on 13 May 2007. The observed individual caught a large marsh frog (Pelophylax ridibundus), but was unable to swallow it immediately because the marsh frog kept spreading its limbs as a defensive behavior. Using its lower and upper mandibles, the Eurasian Spoonbill exerted a series of pressing movements to the head and body of the marsh frog, and then grabbed each limb with its bill and shook the marsh frog under the water to break the limbs one by one. Finally, when all the limbs had been broken, the bird was able to swallow the large marsh frog. This prey handling took approximately 10 min.
Pigniczki, C. (2017). Unique Prey Handling of Eurasian Spoonbill
Waterbirds, 40 (1), 74-76 DOI: 10.1675/063.040.0111