Killing for reasons other than food?

To: birding-aus posts <>
Subject: Killing for reasons other than food?
From: David McDonald <>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 10:22:24 +1000
A friend who lives in the country makes the following observation and
We had our dam cleaned out this morning and among the many birds that
to fossick was a Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis).

At one stage it became very excited and I saw that it had, what looked
a snake. It kept shaking the "snake" until the "snake" was dead. The
then left it and continued to fossick.

I went down to have a look and the snake turned out to be an eel of
about 30cm.

Question. Do some birds kill snakes/eels, not for food but other
Feeding in wet grassy areas, the ibises are perhaps predated by snakes,
so it would be reasonable for the ibis to kill the eel, confusing it
with a (predatory) snake. On the other hand, there is a mention in
HANZAB (vol. 1B, p. 1092) of the venemous Western Brown Snake Pseudonaja
nuchalis (average length 120 cm) being part of the food of a
Straw-necked Ibis, even though its usual food is far smaller. One would
expet that small eels would be eaten by the Straw-necked Ibis, since
they eat fish, crayfish, frogs, etc. HANZAB also mentions small eels as
part of the food of the Glossy Ibis and snakes as occasionally being
eaten by the Australian White Ibis.

Any further observations or thoughts?


David McDonald
PO Box 1355, Woden ACT 2606, Australia
Tel: +61 2 6231 8904 (h); +61 2 6249 5618 (w)
Fax: +61 2 6249 0740

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