Birds aren’t normally thought of as thinking
creatures, and describing someone as “bird-brained” is less than complimentary. But give birds
credit: They have reasoning power, as illustrated by this green heron using a tool to make fishing
better. Waiting in the shallows for prey, the heron
suddenly spots an emerging damselfly and seizes it from the air. But instead of eating the
insect, the bird disables it and goes “fishing.” Placing the insect on the water, it waits
in hope that a fish will surface to take the easy meal. Then, the heron can spear a larger
meal for itself. Again and again, the bird picks up the bug
and places it back on the water, like a human angler casting a lure. The offering would
be just right for a bluegill or green sunfish. But you can’t catch them every time. After
10 minutes, the bird abandons its plan and tries a different spot in the current.
And in a more conventional heron way, it catches a nice shad for supper.
Watching wildlife often reveals fascinating ways of the life around us. The well-documented
fishing strategy of green herons came to life as this bird tried a “trick” to help capture
its prey. Seeing and learning such secrets is always a special thrill in the Kansas outdoors.
Watch for them. I’m Mike Blair for Kansas Wildlife and Parks.