Saturday, 23 January 2010

Turnstones Eat People Too

For those without the excellent product that is BBi (which I thoroughly recommend to all those that can switch on a computer and like to spend their time researching ornithlogical minutae) I thought I'd re-publish this extract prompted by the Turnstone/Human corpse mention that brought one or two verbal comments whilst talking to people over the last 24 hours.

Turnstones feeding on human corpse.—On 2nd February 1966, whilst walking along a beach in south-west Anglesey, I saw five Turn­stones Arenaria interpret and a Carrion Crow Corpus corone feeding on what I at first took to be a pig washed up by the tide and partly covered by wind-blown sand. When I reached the object, however, I dis­covered that it was a human corpse which had been in the water for some considerable length of time. The birds had been feeding on the facial muscles and the neck. I should perhaps add that I actually saw the Turnstones tearing off small shreds of flesh after the Carrion Crow had removed some bigger pieces; there was therefore no doubt that they were feeding on the corpse itself and not on sandhoppers or other invertebrates attracted to this food source. A. J. MERCER
[In recent years we have published records of Turnstones feeding on animal remains, ranging from the carcases of birds and a Wolf Cams lupus in arctic Canada (Brit. Birds, 5 5: 241-243) to those of a sheep and a probable cat in Britain (Brit. Birds, 58: 438; 59: 39). The above rather gruesome account seems to be the ultimate in necrophagous behaviour, however, and we think that it is now sufficiently established that Turnstones will probably turn to any animal carrion when the opportunity occurs.—EDS.]

1 comment:

forestal said...

interesting buti guess not surprising - food is what's available to them