Interesting Dietary Observations - Square-tailed Kite and Nankeen Night-

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Interesting Dietary Observations - Square-tailed Kite and Nankeen Night-Heron
From: Nick Leseberg <>
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2013 06:23:43 +0000
Hi All, A couple of interesting dietary observations recently which I thought 
were worth mentioning. This morning I was driving through Anstead on the 
southwestern outskirts of Brisbane and spotted a Square-tailed Kite fly up into 
a large tree and perch. They are regular in the area, but I rarely see them 
perched, so stopped to watch. I didn't have bins, but it became clear the bird 
had 'caught' something and was feeding on it. It then dropped a large piece of 
its prey and I was able to pick it up off the ground, expecting perhaps the 
wing of nestling or something similar. It turned out to be part of a wasp's 
nest, which the bird had found and was now dismembering, presumably searching 
for the larvae in the nest. A quick look at HANZAB shows that these kites do 
feed on insects, but it seems they are opportunity feeders, taking insects from 
the outer foliage such as stick insects. Searching for larvae in a wasp nest 
would indicate that the birds know the nests contain food and
  either deliberately seek them out or take them opportunistically, an 
unrecorded behaviour as far as I know.
 On a similar note, I was birding in Kalinga Park on the north side of Brisbane 
recently and spotted a Nankeen Night-Heron standing on the side of a creek with 
a very large prey item in its bill. On closer observation it appeared to be an 
adult Dusky Moorhen, or perhaps a very large Purple Swamphen chick. Again, a 
quick glance at HANZAB shows that night-herons have been recorded taking small 
ducklings and European Starlings, but nothing this large.  It was early morning 
and light wasn't great so there wasn't time 
to confirm what the prey was before the bird flew off, struggling to 
take its prey with it; I would have been interested to see how the night-heron 
ate it. Anyway, a couple of interesting observations I thought worth sharing. 
If anyone has any questions, please let me know.
 Cheers and good birding!

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