MAY 19, 2020 10:26 AM PDT

Seabirds Often Deal with Thieves When Scouting for Food

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

In the bird world, parental units will often split responsibilities. One typically stays behind at the nest to protect the defenseless chicks from potential predators, while the other ventures far from home in search of food that it will split among itself, the other parent, and the chicks.

When close to the sea, birds will make quick work of gathering shrimp and small fish near or at the surface of the ocean, but that’s the easy part. The more challenging task is getting that food back to the nest, as there are other hungry birds all around that would gladly battle for the chance to steal pre-obtained food instead of working to snag it from the ocean for themselves.

Many of these entanglements happen in mid-air as the birds attempt to return to the nest. The strong sea breeze keeps the birds in flight even as they stop beating their wings during the skirmish. In most cases, the thieving birds don’t wish to harm the gatherers, but rather steal their earnings for themselves.

A lot of the thievery succeeds as the offending birds attack from above and behind, but those birds that manage to reach the cliff side before being intercepted will be able to feed their hungry families as they wait in the nest for the other parent to arrive.

Related: Are seabird populations in trouble?

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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