Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behavioral Adaptation

In the parking lot of McDonald’s in Alamogordo, New Mexico, I observe a Great-tailed Grackle.

The bird approaches the side of a sedan, peers up at the fender, and walks along the edge until it spots the bumper. It hops up, views the trunk, and then flies over the car to land on the front bumper. The grackle pokes its head into the grill and emerges with an insect. It cocks its head to the side, pokes its beak into the grill again, and again emerges with an insect.

In a semi-arid desert in the middle of a drought, I had thought birds would be struggling to find enough food and moisture, but this spry grackle has made an invaluable discovery! Parked cars have grills coated with insect remains.

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