Green Heron catching fish with bread

Slaty Heron using umbrella technique

Slaty Heron using umbrella technique

This Green Heron shows some real learning behavior, it actually feeds bread to fish to catch it. The method succeeds, a true testimony to bird cognition. The most amazing is, it seems to be hungry but does not eat the bread like the surrounding Ibises do. I have never seen this kind of smart behavior in any of the long-legged ciconiformes. The performing bird is a Green Heron closely related to the Black or Umbrella Heron. The latter also uses an unconventional hunting technique by bending its wings like an umbrella. This way it creates a patch of shadow in the shallow water. Unsuspecting fish looking for some relief are than easily caught. This behavior is featured on the not so good picture I shot in the Gambia. No question the bread fishing is learned behavior, but what or who was the example? Simply amazing to see a Heron using some kind of tool.

Updated: October 6, 2012 — 9:34 pm

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