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Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(4): 231–233. SHORT-COMMUNICA ARTICLE TION December 2018 Stilts do not protect against crawlers: Limpkins preyed on by Tegu Lizards at an urban park 1 2,3 Juliana Vaz Hipolito & Ivan Sazima Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Museu de Zoologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Corresponding author: email@example.com Received on 25 September 2018. Accepted on 26 November 2018. ABSTRACT: Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) is a long-legged wading bird that forages mostly in wetlands in the open and occasionally under tree cover. Th is large bird is cautious and frequently scans its immediate environs when active or resting. Records of adult Limpkin predators are scarce and restricted to two very large aquatic reptiles, the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in North America and the Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) in South America. Herein we report on two Limpkins killed and eaten by Black and White Tegus (Salvator merianae) at an urban park in southeastern Brazil. One of the Limpkins was still alive when we came across the predation event, whereas the other Limpkin seemed freshly killed. Th e fi rst Limpkin was already sprawled on the ground and occasionally opened the bill, vocalised hoarsely and fl apped the wings, while the Tegu repeatedly bit the bird on several body parts, which gradually weakened the bird. Th e Limpkin died when the Tegu bit hard the bird on the head and crushed the skull. In the second event the bird was bitten on several body parts and, thus, we assume that it was also killed by the Tegu that was eating the fresh corpse. Th e two events comprised two Tegu individuals recognisable by natural marks. Limpkins killed and consumed by Tegus probably are a rare occurrence. Tegus are large by Neotropical lizard standards, but are small compared with the other two very large reptiles known to prey on Limpkins. Presently, only three reptilian species are documented as predators of adult Limpkins. KEY-WORDS: Aramidae, predation, Teiidae, urban area, wading bird. Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) is a long-legged wading adequate to record fortuitous or rare events. Voucher bird that forages mostly in wetlands in the open and digital photographs of the two predation events are on occasionally under tree cover (Bryan 1996, 2002). Th is fi le at the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade Estadual de large bird is cautious and frequently scans its immediate Campinas (ZUEC). vicinity when active or resting, especially if sitting on On 08 February 2018 at early afternoon we recorded the ground (I.S., pers. obs.). Records of adult Limpkin a Tegu crawling under tree cover, while a Limpkin walked predators are scarce and restricted to two very large aquatic nearby well aware of the large lizard (Fig. 1A). Shortly after, reptiles, the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) we heard a thrashing noise and hoarse calls nearby. Th en in North America and the Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes we came across the fi rst predation event, the Limpkin still notaeus) in South America (Strussmann 1997, Bryan alive but sprawled on the ground. It occasionally opened 2002). Herein we report on two Limpkins attacked and the bill, vocalised hoarsely and fl apped the wings (Fig. 1B), eaten by Black and White Tegus (Salvator merianae) at an while the Tegu repeatedly bit the bird on several body parts. urban park in southeastern Brazil. Th is biting gradually weakened the Limpkin, which died We recorded the two predation events of Limpkins when the Tegu bit hard the bird on the head and crushed by Tegus at the Parque Ecológico Professor Hermógenes the skull drawing blood at the base of the bill (Fig. 1C). o o de Freitas Leitão Filho (22 48'42''S; 47 04'26''W) in After the kill, the Tegu pulled off feathers from the bird's Campinas, São Paulo state, southeastern Brazil. Th e body (Fig. 1D) and began to tear fl esh pieces to consume. park has a total area of 0.13 km , of which about 75% is On 16 February 2018 we recorded the second occupied by a large pond surrounded by native and exotic predation event, also at early afternoon. When we became vegetation composed of trees, bushes and grass patches. aware of this event, the Limpkin seemed freshly killed We observed the Limpkins and the Tegus with bare eye and was bitten on several body parts. Consequently, we and recorded their interactions in video and photos with assumed that it was killed by the Tegu that was tearing a digital camera at a distance of 2‒3 m. Th roughout fl esh from the corpse (Fig. 2A & B). Th e two events we the observational sessions, we used the “ad libitum” recorded comprised two Tegu individuals recognisable by and “sequence” samplings (Altmann 1974), which are natural marks. Limpkins preyed on by Tegu Lizards Hipolito & Sazima Figure 1. An adult Tegu Salvator merianae (foreground) moves close to an adult Limpkin Aramus guarauna (A). Note relative size of both animals and the Limpkin's long legs (“stilts”). A wounded Limpkin sprawled on the ground, its eyes and bill partly open (upper left) and a Tegu with feathers protruding from its mouth (lower right) (B). Th e Limpkin's head is bitten hard by the Tegu, crushing the skull and drawing blood on the base of bill (C). Feathers from the bird's body and wings are pulled off by the Tegu (D). Photo author: J.V. Hipolito. Figure 2. Th e fresh body of a second killed Limpkin provides food for another adult Tegu (A), eight days after the fi rst Limpkin kill. e vivid r Th ed parts on the Limpkin corpse (centre) indicate a recent death ( B). Photo author: J.V. Hipolito. To the best of our knowledge, the predation events study site and hunts considerably smaller prey (Sazima we recorded are the fi rst instance of adult Limpkins killed & D'Angelo 2013). Moreover, both Tegus and Limpkins and consumed by a medium-sized reptile. Limpkins are are a common sight at the study site (Corbo et al. 2013, large and long-legged wading birds, with about 70 cm Sazima & D'Angelo 2013), but these birds killed and total length and about 60 cm tall (Bryan 1996, 2002, Sick devoured by the lizards were never recorded before. 1997). Th e Black and White Tegu is large by Neotropical We were unable to tell whether the fi rst predation lizard standards, with about 120 cm total length (Pianka event was favoured by a weakening condition such as & Vitt 2003). Th us, predation on Limpkins by these disease or injury or the Limpkin sat and did not perceive lizards may be a rare event, the more so as birds this the approaching Tegu in time to evade the attack. size remain unrecorded as prey for the Black and White Limpkins sit rarely (Bryan 2002) but at our study site Tegu, which is mostly an omnivorous scavenger at the this behaviour is not rare, especially at open places where Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(4): 2018 Limpkins preyed on by Tegu Lizards Hipolito & Sazima the bird has a good view of the immediate surroundings REFERENCES (I.S., pers. obs.). Apart from the possibility of the Tegu Altmann J. 1974. Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. attacking an inattentive Limpkin sitting under a tree Behaviour 49: 227‒267. cover, there still remains the chance that the Limpkin was Bryan D.C. 1996. Family Aramidae (Limpkin), p. 90‒95. In: del partly disabled. Whatever the case, two Limpkins killed Hoyo J., Elliot A. & Sargatal J. (eds.). Handbook of the birds of the world, v. 3 (Hoatzin to auks). Barcelona: Lynx Editions. and eaten by two Tegus at the same site in the interval of Bryan D.C. 2002. Limpkin (Aramus guarauna). In: Poole A.F. & Gill about a week is noteworthy. F.B. (eds.). Th e birds of North America. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of At present, only three reptile species are documented Ornithology. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.627 (access on 12 June as predators of adult Limpkins: American Alligator, Yellow 2018). Corbo M., Macarrão A., D'Angelo G.B., Almeida C.H., Silva W.R. & Anaconda, and Black and White Tegu (Strussmann 1997, Sazima I. 2013. Aves do campus da Unicamp e arredores. Vinhedo: Bryan 2002, present paper). Alligators prey on medium- Avisbrasilis. sized and large aquatic birds, including rails, cormorants, Pianka E.R. & Vitt L.J. 2003. Lizards: windows to the evolution of anhingas, ibises, and herons (Wolfe et al. 1987, Rice diversity. Berkeley: University of California Press. Rice A.N. 2004. Diet and condition of American Alligators (Alligator 2004, Saalfeld et al. 2011), and the same does the Yellow mississippiensis) in three central Florida lakes. MSc. Dissertation. Anaconda, which may prey on birds as large as storks, Gainesville: University of Florida. http://aquaticcommons. ibises, and screamers (Strussmann 1997). Th ese are very org/5059/1/Rice_A_2004.pdf (access on 20 November 2018). Saalfeld D.T., Conway W.C. & Calkins G.E. 2011. Food habits large reptilian predators when compared with the Tegu, of American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in east Texas. which indicates the probable rarity of predation events on Southeastern Naturalist 10: 659‒672. Limpkins by Tegus. Additional, natural history-oriented Sazima I. & D'Angelo G.B. 2013. Range of animal food types studies and observations may test this assumption. recorded for the Tegu Lizard (Salvator merianae) at an urban park in south-eastern Brazil. Herpetology Notes 6: 427‒430. Sick H. 1997. Ornitologia brasileira. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Strüssmann C. 1997. Hábitos alimentares da Sucurí-amarela Eunectes notaeus (Cope, 1862) no Pantanal Mato-Grossense. Biociências 5: 35‒52. We thank the staff of the Parque Ecológico Professor Wolfe J.L., Bradshaw D.K. & Chabreck R.H. 1987. Alligator feeding Hermógenes de Freitas Leitão Filho for allowing our fi eld habits: new data and a review. Northeast Gulf Science 9: 1‒8. studies at the park. I.S. thanks Marlies Sazima for loving support. Associate Editor: Cristiano S. Azevedo. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(4): 2018
Ornithology Research – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2018
Keywords: Aramidae; predation; Teiidae; urban area; wading bird
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