Pushing The Envelope

Discussion in 'Wildlife in the Garden' started by Sjoerd, May 22, 2021.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    upload_2021-5-22_15-59-31.jpeg

    This is a common sight in the lottie these days. It is a great tit removing drone larvae from a piece of comb out of the beehive. The parents of the little chicks that are in one of our nesting boxes and one of the boxes across the sidewalk at the neighbour lady's fly constantly back and forth between the larvae and their respective broods.

    There are tens of larvae and it all goes into the tummies of the little naked young. It is all well and good but what happens to the larvae? How can they just keep eating and eating and not poop? The nest would become so toxic that the chicks would eventually die, I expect.

    Mother Nature has a solution ( doesn’t she always ). When it is time the little chic lifts its bum up and pops out what is called a “fecal sack”, which the parent immediately takes and flies away.
    upload_2021-5-22_16-22-59.jpeg

    The foto above was taken off the internet, I did not take it ( news.cgtn.com )

    You would be forgiven for wrinkling your entire face an uttering a sound like, “EEEuuuuuuwww”!
    But just understand what is going on here...the fecal sack is white, and is just that, a sack, a sort of pillow case or envelope in which the feces is to be found. So, for the parents, it isn’t as unsanitary as one might think...and they are being good parents by keeping up sanitary standards.

    Right then, being an outdoor bloke, I knew about all this, but I always wondered where the parents took their little package. Did they drop it on the ground somewhere? Did they bury it in the underbrush?

    Today my Bride answered this question for us. The tits take the fecal sacks about two metres from the nest box and deposit them on the large branches of an Opal plum standing nearby.
    C327E248-4A3E-4691-BD4A-DDA03EF3FCEF.jpeg

    She told me that she saw an adult fly into the hole with a white larvae in its bill, then fly back out and into the plum tree where it wiped it off its bill. She thought, “huh?” She couldn’t understand why the tit would do that, so she looked and immediately saw what happened and called me over.

    You can see the fresh sack on the branch more or less in the centre of the foto. To the right is a smaller white speck. Do you see it? That is also an old fecal sack, dried-up. By further inspection I discovered on several branches, little dried-ups throughout the tree. I guess you could say that the plum tree is their en suite.

    Yeah, alright mates— this isn’t the most wholesome of topics I have ever written about, but from a scientific point of view I hope that you will see the merit of this thread and find it as interesting as I do. You know, there is so much that goes on right under our noses and we never realise it unless we study and learn, observe ...and of course have a degree of luck. Nature is a wonderful thing.
     
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  2. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Learning through observation is one of the keys to scientific discovery. Excellent observation and dissemination of the information.

    Jerry
     
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  3. Logan

    Logan Young Pine

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    I wondered where they would take it.
     
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  4. marlingardener

    marlingardener Mighty Oak

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    Fascinating! The sacs sure are better than Huggies, which do not break down for decades.
     
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  5. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Yes Jerry it is...and so many other things as well. Thank you for your nice comments.

    I am glad that you found this posting interesting Jane. Your observation is correct and crushingly accurate.
     
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  6. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    Very cool.
     

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