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Kyle asked in PetsBirds · 10 months ago

Large bird fishing?!?

I recently saw a Great Blue Heron dive and catch quite a large (and colorful!) rainbow trout crosswise in it s bill, you could tell the fish was not happy and fighting hard to prevent becoming the bird’s dinner. It looked like the fish was putting up a real good struggle, but within about 30 seconds the flapping thing was turned face-first and the heron swallowed the entire fish down its long/skinny neck the whole way!! The thing appeared to be wriggling down that long neck! I thought it was over, but once in the stomach you could see the desperate fish kicking much to the discomfort (it appeared) to the bird.

We didn’t stay much longer, I wonder if that was the end for the fish or if it still had a slim chance of survival?? Hard to imagine it would succumb so easily once down..Does it stand any slim chance of escaping (biting, the wriggling etc.) such a grim fate or at least damage the bird’s insides with that thrashing?? It must be a some meal for the bird and I wonder if it handles it bones and all as well?!


This was on a river while I was fishing nearby I’ll add.

3 Answers

  • 10 months ago

    the bird might be forced to puke it out but the stomach acid would kill the fish first so that the bird doesn't have to puke.

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  • 10 months ago

    What you though was the fish in its stomach was actually the fish in its crop.

    There is indeed a slim possibility the fish could get out, but probably not without the bird's cooperation.

    Birds swallow food into the crop and digestion starts there; and the bird can regurgitate the contents of the crop if they want to. This is how they feed their young chicks. It is also part of the courtship ritual for the male bird to feed the female this way. Also, they will regurgitate any indigestible parts such as bones and skin, after the soft parts have been softened up enough to separate them.

    I have seen a bird regurgitate the food in its crop just to have room for something it liked better.

    Most likely though, the fish you saw was done for. I don't see any reason the heron would want to regurgitate it alive. It might well have a mate and chicks to feed, though. Both parents feed the chicks, and they take a few months to become proficient at fishing, so they will get at least supplemental feedings from their parents maybe even into the winter.

    So if the fish is caught by a young inexperienced heron, it has a better chance to escape.

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  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Well, the behaviour (and the fight that the fish put up) has been shaped by hundreds of millions of years of natural selection and evolution: so that means that sometimes the fish wins the fight. Probably not very often once it's down the gullet though.

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