In the case of the BBR, perhaps it spends so much time foraging in mud, where
the bill works better, compared to the time it forages in litter that it's not
worth working out a better way.
If it changed methods then it would have to change habitat, and then it might
not be a BBR anymore. So what's stopping it? And what's stopping it from
learning to scratch while retaining the ability to probe? Perhaps it actually
does quite well with its bill in the litter.
Are there any birds that probe and scratch?
Sent from my iPad
On 16/05/2013, at 6:06 AM, "Laurie Knight" <> wrote:
> That's part of it, but there is more to it than that. A species can
> occupy multiple ecological niches across its range, and different
> species occupying the same niche can behave quite differently.
> I think their ancestral history has a fair bit to do with it.
> On 15/05/2013, at 10:29 PM, Carl Clifford wrote:
>> To each their ecological niche.
>> Carl Clifford
>> On 15/05/2013, at 22:07, Laurie Knight <>
>>> I came across a foraging Buff-banded Rail as I was passing through
>>> the Roma St Parklands yesterday. Whereas a Junglefowl, Scrubfowl,
>>> Turkey or Logrunner would be busily scratching away in the leaf
>>> litter, the BBR was using its bill to fossick for food in a flower
>>> This got me thinking about the nature of ground-feeding species
>>> that forage with their feet vs species that forage exclusively with
>>> their bills.
>>> I suspect there are few examples of shorebirds that use their feet
>>> to uncover food (I've seen a gull paddling its feet on the water's
>>> edge but that's pretty much an exception). In contrast, a number
>>> of dryland birds are very dependent on their feet to uncover food.
>>> The thing about the BBR was that it was foraging with its bill in a
>>> medium that other species would use their feet to clear.
>>> So what is it that sets the programming for ground-feeding
>>> behaviour? Some shorebird species would seem to have feet that
>>> could be used for foraging ...
>>> Regards, Laurie.
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