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Bolsa Chica's tap dancing plover

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  • Delores Jenisch
    This morning at BC we were highly entertained watching a little Semipalmated Plover repeatedly doing a one-footed tap dance. It was even ambidextrous to boot!
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 1, 2003
      This morning at BC we were highly entertained watching a
      little Semipalmated Plover repeatedly doing a one-footed tap
      dance. It was even ambidextrous to boot! We could see it
      shift its weight to one leg, stretch out the other leg just
      a little, and then tap the free foot on the sand just as
      fast and furious as it could for about 5 seconds or so.
      After putting its dancing foot back down, it would jab fast
      and furious with its bill at the sand around the dancing
      stage This action seemed to be an effective way to scare
      up "sand bugs" for eating because that little guy was eating
      up a storm!

      At first we thought that perhaps the bird had a neurological
      disorder, but the more we watched, the more we were
      convinced it was a deliberate act of a healthy, clever bird.
      After tapping out one area for a few minutes, it would move
      over to another spot and start tap dancing again, first on
      one leg and then on the other.

      We searched for other Semipalmated Plovers nearby to see if
      they were as clever as he, but all of them were doing the
      usual running from bug to bug on both feet.

      Have any of you seen this behavior before?
      Is this behavior to be expected from these plovers (and we
      just hadn't seen it before), or is this little guy of genius IQ?
      Do you know if other birds dance for their supper?

      This was sure one of the most unique behaviors we've seen yet.

      Delores Jenisch
      Fullerton, North Orange County
    • Jody Graham
      I m sure others will join me in agreeing that the foot-tapping is a popular trick employed by Snowy Egrets. I ve frequently seen the behavior exhibited by the
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 2, 2003
        I'm sure others will join me in agreeing that the foot-tapping is a popular
        trick employed by Snowy Egrets. I've frequently seen the behavior exhibited
        by the egrets at Bolsa Chica wetlands. And then there's the crazy 'dance'
        performed by the Reddish Egret; unfortunately this behavior is much more
        difficult to observe, as I believe the last Orange County sighting of a
        Reddish Egret may have been nine or ten years ago. . . anyone?

        Jody Graham
        Huntington Beach
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Delores Jenisch" <djenisch@...>
        To: <OrangeCountyBirding@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 10:44 PM
        Subject: [OrangeCountyBirding] Bolsa Chica's tap dancing plover


        > This morning at BC we were highly entertained watching a
        > little Semipalmated Plover repeatedly doing a one-footed tap
        > dance. It was even ambidextrous to boot! We could see it
        > shift its weight to one leg, stretch out the other leg just
        > a little, and then tap the free foot on the sand just as
        > fast and furious as it could for about 5 seconds or so.
        > After putting its dancing foot back down, it would jab fast
        > and furious with its bill at the sand around the dancing
        > stage This action seemed to be an effective way to scare
        > up "sand bugs" for eating because that little guy was eating
        > up a storm!
        >
        > At first we thought that perhaps the bird had a neurological
        > disorder, but the more we watched, the more we were
        > convinced it was a deliberate act of a healthy, clever bird.
        > After tapping out one area for a few minutes, it would move
        > over to another spot and start tap dancing again, first on
        > one leg and then on the other.
        >
        > We searched for other Semipalmated Plovers nearby to see if
        > they were as clever as he, but all of them were doing the
        > usual running from bug to bug on both feet.
        >
        > Have any of you seen this behavior before?
        > Is this behavior to be expected from these plovers (and we
        > just hadn't seen it before), or is this little guy of genius IQ?
        > Do you know if other birds dance for their supper?
        >
        > This was sure one of the most unique behaviors we've seen yet.
        >
        > Delores Jenisch
        > Fullerton, North Orange County
        >
        >
        >
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