How does the Bassian Thrush collect multiple prey items?

To: Canberra Birds <>
Subject: How does the Bassian Thrush collect multiple prey items?
From: "calyptorhynchus ." <>
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:09:06 +0000
Interesting, I remember remember watching a couple of small insectivorous birds in the UK when I was a teenager, I think the spp in question were Willow Warbler and Hedge Sparrow. In both cases the prey items were small flies or aphids which were crushed in the beak and so wouldn't fall out as readily as the BT's worms. Both these spp simply opened the beak slightly and added more items as they continued gathering, pushing the already-held ones further back. Eventually they had a beak completely full of crushed up insects.

John Leonard

On 21 August 2017 at 21:20, Wallaces <> wrote:

I had the opportunity today to video a Bassian Thrush collecting multiple prey items. The technique used is to drop the prey already held, find and capture another one, and then pick up the items dropped. Collecting the items dropped can take several attempts. The pictures below, taken from a video, show how this is done.


1.       Capture new item (picture 1)

2.       Collect some of the items previously dropped by opening up its beak just before it hits the ground (as in the blurred unnumbered picture below picture 1)

3.       Keep picking up more previously dropped items until all are collected (the bird pictured took 4 attempts to collect all the prey on this occasion – picture 2 and 3 are the result of the first and second attempt)


The action is fast with the time between picture 1 and 3 being less than 2 seconds. This bird repeated this behaviour several times while I watched it. Most of the time it ate the collected prey but several times it fed another adult bird, so I assume it is a male feeding a female.  Perhaps it was practicing the technique for capturing of multiple prey in preparation for feeding young.  The bird was also able to call while it was carrying multiple prey items.




John Leonard

I want to be with the 9,999 other things.
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