Bird Families

White stork ciconia ciconia preys on Emberiza bunting and other passerines in Namibia


Russian Ornithological Journal 2018, Volume 27, Express issue 1673: 4741-4745

White stork Ciconia ciconia preys on Bunting Emberiza and other passerines in Namibia

Egor Borisovich Malashichev, Elizaveta Egorovna Malashicheva. Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Faculty of Biology, St. Petersburg State University, Universitetskaya nab. 7/9, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia. E-mail: [email protected]

Received September 24, 2018

The main food of white storks Ciconia ciconia is Orthoptera and other insects, other invertebrates (for example, earthworms), as well as vertebrates, which are more energetically advantageous prey. Of vertebrates, storks most often hunt amphibians, less often snakes and lizards; in some areas, rodents can make up a large share of the diet (Grishchenko, Galchenkov 2011). However, such a diet is only possible in areas where these objects are abundant. In southern Africa, where white storks spend the winter, and young (under 3 years old) individuals from the eastern population stay all year round (Ibid.), The situation with food items may be different. For example, in the valleys of the Hoanib and Hoarusib rivers in northwestern Namibia and the mountains and valleys adjacent to the Namib desert in the dry season, orthoptera insects and rodents are few in number. The sources of water are relatively small puddles, pits dug by the elephants Loxodonta africana and the antelope oryx Oryx gazella in the bed of these dry rivers, as well as artificial watering holes, which are small concrete ponds, where water is pumped from the well. Such watering places are usually arranged 20 km from each other, which approximately corresponds to the daily transition of elephants from one source to another. Artificial watering places are shallow, and only a few invertebrates are found in them, for example, individual water beetles, dipteran larvae, and rivers are fishless even in the rainy season. In these conditions, white storks, as it turned out, can switch to unusual food.

Although storks usually fly to Eastern Europe outside the rainy season (winter in the southern hemisphere), some of them remain in Namibia. One of these young birds was encountered by us at an artificial watering hole (18.993016 ° S, 13.157365 ° W) between the settlements of Sesfontain and Purros during an expedition to study behavioral lateralization in proboscis and ungulates. in July 2018. Especially many birds gather here at morning and evening dawns. The most numerous are two types of turtle doves:

Fig. 1. Hunting of the white stork Ciconia ciconia for buntings Emberiza capensis and E., at an artificial watering hole in the Sesfontein-Purros region, Damaraland, Namibia. Separate high-speed footage of different hunting episodes. Photo by E.B. Malashichev.

Fig. 2. Hunting of the black-necked heron Abea mileanocepala for Cape turtledove Deena capensis near an artificial reservoir in Okakuyo, Etosha National Park, Namibia. Photo by A.N. Gilev.

Cape Oena capensis and Lesser Streptopelia senegalensis, South African Sandgrouse Pterocles namaqua, Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis and Pale E. impetuani, and canary finches: yellow-bellied Crithagra flaviventis and white-chinned C. albogularis. The pond is also visited by a pair of piebald crows Corvus albus, African vultures Gyps africanus and already

mentioned white stork. There are so many birds at dawn that they form several rows around the water. Larger birds (turtle doves and sand grouses) first make their way to it, and small passerines crowd along the periphery, forming a living ring.

The white stork constantly kept at the watering hole, pacing along its concrete side, and healed small birds (buntings and canaries) along the periphery of the ring, without hiding. During the conditional "five-minute" observations, he caught and swallowed 6 birds, grabbing them across the body or by the wings, sitting on the ground or taking off.One of the birds escaped from its beak, but the stork still held it by its wing and, intercepting it, swallowed it. During the daytime there are fewer birds, and the stork made regular attempts (sometimes successful) to catch birds flying by on the fly. However, the most intense hunting is still limited to the morning and evening hours, since at other times there is no such large concentration of birds at the watering hole and it is more difficult for a stork to “hit the target”. Driven to the pond by thirst, the birds flew up after each attack of the stork and immediately sat down at a short distance from it and tried to make their way to the water again. Vultures and piebald crows visiting the watering hole showed no forage interest in small birds.

Probably, buntings and other passerine birds did not perceive the white stork as a really dangerous predator, and after the capture of relatives in front of them continued to squeeze near the water. Judging by the regular presence of a stork at this pond on different days, it was such an easy way of hunting, and not water as such, that attracted his primary attention. Apparently, the “step-by-step” availability of new food allowed the stork to spend time comfortably in insufficiently feeding conditions in the desert.

Stork feeding on birds, especially catching them flying, is rarely described in the ornithological literature, probably due to the transience of this event (see: Berthold 2004 for a review of rare cases). We have observed this behavior many times over several days, which confirms not only the potential ability of the white stork to catch birds flying in, but also the possibility of its transition to such a mobile and unusual prey as to routine food under appropriate favorable circumstances (lack of water sources and a large number of small passerines accumulating at watering places).

Some other African storks, such as the black-necked heron Ardea melanocephala, are famous bird hunters at watering places (Kopij 2006, see Fig. 2), but so far no white stork has been mentioned in this short list of ornithophages.

The expedition to Namibia, where the observations were made, was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 14-14-00284p). A.N. Gilev assisted in identifying some birds, he also presented photographs of a hunting black-necked heron.

Grishchenko V.N., Galchenkov Yu.D. 2011. White stork Ciconia ciconia (Linnaeus, 1758) // Birds of Russia and adjacent regions: Pelicans, Leaf-like, Flamingo-like. M .: 384-416. Berthold P. 2004. Aerial “flycatching”: non-predatory birds can catch small birds in flight // J. Ornithol. 145: 271-271.

Kopij G. 2006. Diet of the black-headed heron Ardea melanocephala during the breeding season in South African grasslands // Biologia 61, 2: 241-244.

Russian Ornithological Journal 2018, Volume 27, Express issue Ï673: 4745-4748

On the predation of the great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major near Arkhangelsk

Valery Arkadievich Andreev. Northern (Arctic) Federal University. Severnaya Dvina Embankment, 17, Arkhangelsk, 1в3002, Russia. E-mail: [email protected]

Received September 25, 2018

Predation of the great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major, manifested in the abduction of chicks and eggs from other birds' nests, was observed in different regions: Bashkiria (Chernykh 1972), North Ossetia (Komarov 1997), Karelia (Zimin, Artemiev 1998), Leningrad and Pskov regions (Golovanova , Pukinsky 19vv, Gavlyuk 197v, Mitrofanov, Gavlyuk 197v, Malchevsky, Pukinsky 1983, Bardin 198v, 2009), in the Moscow region (Inozemtsev 19v1), in the Oksky reserve (Ivanchev 1991, 1995, 2000), in the Southern Urals (Korovin 1984) , in Germany (Ludescher 1973), Finland (Orell, Ojanen 1983), etc.

The titmouse, which I hang out in my summer cottage in the vicinity of Arkhangelsk (4 ° 29'29 "N, 40 ° 49'21" E) for more than 25 years, the great tit Parus major has constantly settled. In May 2018, a pair of great tit settled in one of the titmouse, attached to a birch at a height of 3.5 m (see figure).

On May 12, the female incubated a clutch of 10 eggs. When examining the nest on June 3, there were 10 chicks in it.

On June 10, 2018, at about 10.30 a.m., a great spotted woodpecker flew up to the titmouse and through a square entrance (32x32 mm), sticking its head, quickly pulled the chick out of the nest and flew away with it. The height of the titmouse was small: 23 cm, and the nest was located about half this height. Thus, the distance to the chicks was small enough so that the woodpecker, sticking its head into the entrance, could easily