Re: resistence of raptors

To: Alex Appleman <>
Subject: Re: resistence of raptors
From: WM James Davis <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 16:13:25 +1000 (EST)
On Thu, 19 Jun 1997, Alex Appleman wrote:

> Following on from Shane Raidal's commemts; raptors are hardy critters
and also intelligent.  There is evidence in North Queensland of black
kites preying on the dreaded cane toad, flipping them over and feeding
the legs and soft underbelly to their chicks, avoiding the poison glands.
We can only assume that the kites ate poison in small doses, identified
which part of the toad was toxic and are teaching their offspring how to
avoid them. 
Alex:  Your last sentence is intriguing.  I would like to know how
kites manipulate their food.  Wouldn't they normally attack their prey 
where they are the most vulnerable, i.e. the belly?  If so, then
perhaps there isn't a learning process involve other than to discover that
toads are eatable and if kite normally eat other species of frogs then
we should expect that kites would sooner or later discover the toads --
that is, those toads that make the mistake of hopping around during the
   What you're suggesting is cultural transmission of prey preference
which is infinitely more interesting than what I believe is happening.
Unfortunately, I know very little about how young kites are taught to
recognize prey let alone how to eat special items.  I do know that some
birds imprint on food items brough to the nest.  If this happens in the
kites then maybe they will reduce toad populations somewhat. In any event,
thanks for the insight. 

Cheers, Jim Davis

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