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A Behavior Question for Long Billed Curlew Researchers/Observers

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  • debbieviess
    My husband and I were recently at the Cogswell Marsh at the Hayward Shoreline, where the birding was pretty sparse. So rather than tick species off a list, we
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2012
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      My husband and I were recently at the Cogswell Marsh at the Hayward Shoreline, where the birding was pretty sparse. So rather than tick species off a list, we observed the behavior of one big bird, close-by: a long billed curlew. This bird, solitary on a mud flat at low tide, continually probed deeply in the mud and often came up with what sure looked like a bivalve (somewhat lengthened like a razor calm, but much smaller).

      But here is where it got weird. The bird pulled it out, swished the mud off, then spun it around in its bill a bit under the water, in areas where there was a bit of standing water, and somehow opened the shell? but at any rate ended up swallowing a much smaller organism, or what we guessed to be the bivalves' soft interior.

      How the heck does a LB Curlew open up a bivalve w/out prying it open?

      Did it just confuse the animal, like that old Confuse a Cat Skit on Monty Python? Spin it til it opens?

      Any illumination y'all can provide would be much appreciated.
      Offlist is fine if this topic doesn't fit the Calbirds philosophy, but I figured that somebody in this illustrious crew might have an answer.

      Debbie Viess
      Oakland, CA
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