Rails following snakes: predator-response behaviour, potential prey, prey-flushing or curiosity?

Cutten, Dean, Goodyear, Gavin, Tarrant, Tom, Fitzsimons, James and Palmer, Grant 2013, Rails following snakes: predator-response behaviour, potential prey, prey-flushing or curiosity?, Australian field ornithology, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 97-102.

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Title Rails following snakes: predator-response behaviour, potential prey, prey-flushing or curiosity?
Author(s) Cutten, Dean
Goodyear, Gavin
Tarrant, Tom
Fitzsimons, James
Palmer, Grant
Journal name Australian field ornithology
Volume number 30
Issue number 2
Start page 97
End page 102
Total pages 6
Publisher BirdLife Australia
Place of publication Nunawading, Vic
Publication date 2013-06
ISSN 1448-0107
Keyword(s) Buff-banded Rail
Gallirallus philippensis
Sarothrura
Rallidae
Predator-response behaviour
snakes
Summary Although snakes are both predators and prey of birds in the Rallidae family in other parts of the world, there are few documented observations of interactions between these groups in Australia. Here we describe four separate observations of Buff-banded Rails Gallirallus philippensis following snakes in a deliberate manner. Because of the large size of the different snake species encountered by the Buff- banded Rails during our observations, we consider that it is unlikely that the snakes were viewed as potential prey. The behaviours observed in our accounts, and of flufftails Sarothrura spp. in Africa, suggest that rails are aware of the predatory threat of snakes, and follow them to ensure that they move outside the rails’ area of concern. We suggest that this behaviour is likely to be a deliberate response to encountering a potential (or perceived) terrestrial predator, such as a snake, or that the snake’s movements potentially flush prey suitable for Buff-banded Rails.
Language eng
Field of Research 060801 Animal Behaviour
Socio Economic Objective 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30054880

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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