Crested Bellbird immobilising caterpillars - RFI

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Crested Bellbird immobilising caterpillars - RFI
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2008 17:48:29 +1000
For what it is worth, I was the one who suggested it could just be for 
decoration of the nest, or for repelling some insect/predator. Although I have 
no evidence either way. I just would think it unlikely that the things would be 
eaten later. This decoration idea is in the way that Diamond Firetails weave 
flowers into their nest and if I remember that correctly Riflebirds use 
snakeskin. My reason for suggesting a good biting would be the way the adult 
birds immobilise caterpillars is because so many birds that eat caterpillars 
either belt them against a branch or rock or whatever and/or give them a 
thorough nibbling, before eating them and I couldn't imagine a chemical 
retardant being used, as was suggested in Frank's original question. A very 
good question by the way! I wonder how widespread the practice is and what 
level of evidence there is that the birds eat the caterpillars. Is it just a 
odd thing that has been copied from one book to many others?

As for someone doing a PhD about that. Imagine how much time would be spent 
looking for the things to get any kind of usable data.


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