Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food That Fights Back

All juvenile animals have to learn by trial and error what’s safe to eat. The young house sparrow in these pictures seemed to be still quite low on the learning curve. It grabbed the violet ground beetle that scurried within easy reach, then almost instantly dropped it (second picture from top). Some beetles exude foul-tasting fluids when they’re assaulted; I don’t know whether this species does or whether it was just its wriggling that made the sparrow drop it. Its assailant persisted and after further struggles the unfortunate beetle became a crunchy meal for a hungry sparrow.


  1. Great observation Phil and capture. Both ;)
    These young birds have a tough time when first out in the world. So much to learn, and quickly.
    I often wonder how they 'know' what not to eat, when something is poisonous. A built in instinct maybe?

  2. I agree. Well captured series of photos, Phil. Nice one.

  3. Hi Dean and Keith,the whole learning process in animals is fascinating, isn't it. It intrigues me how herons and kingfishers learn to make an allowance for light 'bending' in water, so they need to ofset their aim to catch fish.Trial and error plus learning, or instinct? If it's the former they must go hungry a lot of the time when they're young...