Heron and grebe feeding association

Subject: Heron and grebe feeding association
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 12:25:22 +1100
Hi All,

David Burren's observation of the Silver Gull feeding with Black Swans
reminded me of something I saw last Sunday, and thought I would share here.

I was walking in the Megalong Valley (in the western Blue Mountains, NSW)
and stopped for a while to watch the happenings on a small farm dam. There
was a single Australasian Grebe swimming in the middle of the dam, and a
White-faced Heron wading in the shallows around the edge. Suddenly the
heron seemed to come across a concentration of small prey; it started madly
snatching things from just under the surface and swallowing them. It
certainly looked like there must have been a lot of whatever it was eating.

Immediately the grebe swam straight over to where the heron was feeding and
also began rapidly grabbing the prey from just under the surface. The two
birds fed together like this for at least five minutes in an area no more
than a couple of metres square, in a shallow corner of the dam.

While it's certainly not unusual for different species to feed together
where there is a concentration of food (look at the honeyeaters, for
example), I found it interesting to actually see the grebe responding to
the heron's behaviour in order to take advantage of a rich food supply.

After 5-10 minutes this feeding frenzy subsided. The heron waded further
around the edge of the dam and changed its feeding technique. I know
foot-stirring in herons is quite well documented but it was great to be
able to watch closely as it vibrated its foot, alternately one then the
other, very rapidly in the water to stir up prey.



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