Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Let's put some meat in the bird feeder

  1. #1
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Let's put some meat in the bird feeder

    Vegetarian Birds Turn Carnivorous

    March 26, 2015 | by Stephen Luntz

    Photo credit: Credit: Matt Watson/ABC. Lorikeets near Brisbane eating meat put out for other birds.

    Ornithologists are puzzling over the case of a vegetarian bird that has developed an unprecedented taste for meat. So far, the birds haven't shown any sign of including live animals, let alone humans, in their diet. However, a brightly colored version of "The Birds" may be just around the corner.
    Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus moluccanus)are a species of parrot common along the east coast of Australia. Although they have become pests after being introduced into Western Australia and New Zealand, in their native regions their bright colors make them exceptionally popular and it is not uncommon for Australians to leave food and water out in the hope of attracting them to their gardens.

    Credit Pamela Rose via Wikimedia Commons.

    This is what an individual named only as Bill was doing on his property at Elimbah, north of Brisbane: He was leaving out seeds for the lorikeets and king parrots that inhabit the nearby forests. However, Bill doesn't discriminate by color and also provided minced meat for the magpies,currawongs and kookaburras that also live in the area.
    Around seven years ago, Bill noticed that the lorikeets were eating the meat intended for their monochrome counterparts. "At first they went for the seed but then they started chasing the other birds away from the meat, which surprised me," he told the ABC.
    Eventually, Bill reported the behavior to Professor Darryl Jones of Griffith University who was astonished. "All animals need protein and it is not unusual for them to like it from a concentrated source," Jones told IFLS. "Even among grianiverous birds such as these they were all fed insects as babies. What is so unusual is that they are eating a lot of it."
    Ironically, however, the meat might still be healthier than the sugar-rich treats many people ignorantly offer.
    Although many vegetarian animals are known to engage in a little scavenging when short of protein or calcium, this behavior is quite exceptional. The lorikeets are superbly adapted to feeding on nectar, with a truly bizarre tongue evolved for the purpose.
    The occasional meaty snack is one thing, but putting in the energy to scare off larger birds requires a serious taste for a food their ancestors haven't been digesting for millions of years. “It makes no sense at all,” Jones told the ABC. Even carnivorous birds can develop fatty liver disease from the minced meat of sedentary farm animals. It's also unclear why species such as Australian magpies, known for striking fear into cyclists, are letting the lorikeets chase them away from their preferred food; presumably the kookaburras were too busy laughing at the lorikeets' clown suits to take them on.
    Eating unusual foods can be a sign of malnourishment or ecological displacement, but as Jones noted, “The birds look extremely healthy in those pictures.”

    Credit: Matt Watson/ABC

    Jones has called for other witnesses of birds engaging in a similar behavior to contact him at He says that since the story first broke he has been bombarded with tales of similar behavior. "I'm looking at working with a vet to study the impact this will have if they get a large portion of their diet from meat." In most cases, however, Jones says wild birds get only a tiny percentage of their diet from the food humans leave out, adding, "If this is a big proportion I am sure it would be catastrophic". None of the birds are tagged, so Jones says it is not known if the same individuals have been eating meat for a long time, and if the behavior is being passed on to their children. He notes, "Australian birds are famously long-lived and rainbow lorikeets can survive up to twenty years."

    Vegetarian Birds Turn Carnivorous | IFLScience
    As Canadian as possible under the circumstances


    "What's traitors, precious?" -- President Gollum

  2. #2
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005


    I didn't read the whole article and I'm not familiar with any breed of bird, really. But we live in a rather green suburb and have tons of different kinds of birds around. We've seen several breeds feed off dead birds that were either hit by traffic or perhaps half eaten by cats or something. And they weren't "shy" about it, either. Really rather disturbing to see.
    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

  3. #3
    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    In the "D"


    It's the end of times.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
    Laugh Uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.

    - Mark Twain

  4. #4
    Elite Member Sleuth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Vegemite Land


    Great! Now they have the taste of blood. Hopefully they won't start attacking us like every other psychotic Australian bird.
    Alicia Silverstone: "I think that the film Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness."

  5. #5
    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Somewhere been 'General Confusion' and 'Total WTF?'


    Try putting a roast chicken carcass outside and you'll see what cannibalistic little bastards birds are.
    I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. Hunter S Thompson

    How big would a T-Rex wang be?! - Karistiona

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 6
    Last Post: June 18th, 2012, 05:40 PM
  2. Lazy Little Bird!!!!
    By baked_tater in forum Pets and Animals
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: August 26th, 2011, 12:26 PM
  3. Thoughts on Bird Flu?
    By UndercoverGator in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: November 4th, 2005, 10:25 AM
  4. Bird flu pandemic 'will hit UK'
    By DisruptiveHair in forum News
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: October 17th, 2005, 09:03 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts