Bird species that have the capacity to express novel foraging behaviours are less vulnerable to extinction than species that do not, according to a collaborative study involving McGill University and CREAF Barcelona, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
The researchers found that birds that were able to incorporate new foods into their diet or develop new techniques to obtain food were better able to withstand the environmental changes affecting their habitat, which represent their main threat of extinction.
Throughout the years, scientists have noticed numerous examples of these behaviours. Green herons have been repeatedly observed using bread or insects as bait to catch fish. Opportunistic carrion crows have been seen using cars as nut- or seashell-crackers. Great cormorants in New Zealand have been observed coordinating their fishing periods with the movements of commercial ferries in order to take advantage of the strong currents generated by the propellers to catch confused fish. MORE