Whistling Kite behaviour

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Whistling Kite behaviour
From: "Jon Wren" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 15:18:58 +1100
Gooday Birding-aussers
Let us all just observe the List Owners request on all matters concerning Fig Parrot 4, something for your consideration and possible comment. Last Sunday morning I was unloading a train at Abbot Point just North of Bowen Qld. Just as the Sun was rising I observed two Whistling Kites perched in a tree adjacent to the remains of carrion that had been dragged onto the actual line. Both birds were settled and remained motionless in the tree as the train passed over the carrion. Due to the fact that the train was 76 wagons long I was not in a position to observe what ultimately happened to the carrion after the train had passed. However, I am going to surmise that the Whistling Kites purposely dragged the carrion onto the rail so that further nutrition could be released from the crushed bones and flesh once the train had cleared. In the past (in excess of 30 years driving trains) I have observed Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Whistling Kite and Wedge-tailed Eagle adjacent to rail tracks try to fly away from an approaching train with carrion in their talons, only to lose the prey due to weight of carrion? Or maybe it was purposely trying to drop it onto the track so as a to gain access to marrow, flesh etc. after the train had passed over. Do birding-aussers consider that a relationship may have evolved between some Raptors whereby they recognise trains as a tool that can be utilised to provide access to more nutrition. I remember reading that birds identified man made structures in their search for food due to the high prevalence of roadkill along a network of roads or rail.

Jon Wren


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