Crested Bellbird immobilising caterpillars - RFI

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Crested Bellbird immobilising caterpillars - RFI
From: "John Leonard" <>
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2008 10:02:38 +1000
I was one of those who mentioned the half-biting through the 'neck' of
the caterpillar. It makes sense to me in a environment which may have
patchy occurence of food resources. The parent birds go foraging for
foods. If they find aa good supply of caterpillars it would be a good
strategy to collect as many as they can and immobilise and store them.
The caterpillars, being still alive, will keep for several days. The
alternative strategy, only taking as many as the chicks will eat
immediately, runs the risk of the supply being depleted by other
Bellbirds, or other predators, before the Bellbirds can return.

John Leonard

On 06/06/2008,  <> wrote:
> Hi Wendy, Evan et al
> I think I had 3 responses - I thought they had all been sent to the list but 
> perhaps not - anyway, everyone has basically said the same thing, ie that the 
> birds bite the caterpillars to immobilise them, but very little really seems 
> to be known about it.  Seems a bizarre technique to me, and unclear whether 
> the young help themselves to the food or not.  One person suggested it could 
> just be for decoration of the nest, or for repelling some insect/predator ??? 
>  Perhaps the strangest thing is that while most of the reference books 
> mention this practice, they say practically nothing about it!
> Regards
> Frank Antram
> -----Original message-----
> From: "Wendy" 
> Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2008 03:19:21 +1000
> To: "Evan Beaver"  
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Crested Bellbird immobilising caterpillars - RFI
> > Hi Frank,
> > I too, am very interested in responses to your question, as I am interested
> > in birds and Lepidoptera. Apart from Steven Ambrose reply, did you receive
> > any other help?
> > I forwarded your question to a few entomologist/lepidopteran contacts to see
> > if they could help, but have received no definite information from them.
> > Some thoughts from one .....
> > "I've never heard that one before.
> > Maybe the birds steal them from wasps, or nest above the snow line.
> > Maybe there is some spinal nerve they could sever with a well aimed peck.
> > Beats me.
> >     Don"
> >
> > Wendy Moore
> >
> >

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU