Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QHas any­one en­coun­tered sim­i­lar be­hav­iour with Lit­tle Egrets and Foxes liv­ing in ‘har­mony’? This Lit­tle Egret walked over to the Fox and the Fox sat quite still, only mov­ing to dab­ble in the wa­ter ex­actly where the bird had done so. He of­ten walks past the Lit­tle Egret with­out glanc­ing and the bird never moves. Deb­o­rah Hart

AWe haven’t seen ex­actly this sort of be­hav­iour be­fore, but there seems to be some sort of sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship go­ing on here. From your de­scrip­tion, the Fox seems to be try­ing to grab fish that the egret has dis­turbed but not caught. So, al­though the Fox might try to make a meal of the bird if noth­ing else was on of­fer, he’s will­ing here to take the much more low-risk op­tion (imag­ine the dam­age the egret’s bill could do him) which pre­sum­ably re­sults in a steady stream of smaller food items. Not for noth­ing do Foxes have a rep­u­ta­tion for cun­ning! Some­times dif­fer­ent bird species use each other in sim­i­lar fash­ion. Other small birds of­ten feed close to Stonechats, which are par­tic­u­larly wary and give loud alarm calls from a prom­i­nent perch. Pre­sum­ably the ex­tra safety is ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion for the food they miss out on to the Stonechat.

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