Tag Archives: Tilapia

Feed the birds

A black-crowned night heron tries to eat a tilapia
A house finch eats tree heliotrope fruit

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Feed the Birds.’ See more responses here.

In the top photo, this ambitious juvenile black-crowned night heron snaffled a tilapia from a large backyard pond. However, that was the easy part. I watched it for quite a while, trying to swallow the fish. It flew from the pond into a tree, then on to another one, before returning to the ground beyond some rocks. The fish was still in its beak, but no closer to reaching its stomach.

In the middle photo, a house finch chows down on the fruit of a tree heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea).

In the bottom photo, a palila feeds on a mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) seed pod. Typically, a palila will grab a pod from one place and then take it to another branch to eat it. It pins the green, immature seed pod to the branch, as in this photo, and then bashes away at it with its powerful beak. The seeds are poisonous, but palilas have developed an immunity to the toxins. The brown pods in this photo won’t be eaten by palilas. They will remain on the tree for a long time before dropping and hopefully producing more trees, though mamane seeds have quite low propagation rates.

A palila eats a mamane seed pod

A black-crowned night heron snaffles a tilapia

This juvenile black-crowned night heron swooped down and snatched a large tilapia out of a pond in front of a house by the coast. Trouble is, the fish was a bit big and the heron struggled to swallow it. After working on it by the pond, the bird flew to the top of a tree where a strong wind added to its difficulties. It hopped over to a taller tree, which only made things worse, before setting down on the rocky shore nearby.

I saw the bird a few minutes later without the fish, but don’t know whether it finally managed to swallow it or gave up and ejected it. Either way it wasn’t a good day for the fish.

Posted in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, ‘Out of This World.’