Black-crowned Night Heron
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Herons using bread as bait to catch fish
On July 20,2008. Cecilia and I visited the KoOlina Golf Club to observe and photograph Black-crowned Night- Herons using bread as bait to catch fish. This interesting behavior was first reported by Carol Cox in September, 2007. We arrived at the golf course at 11AM and walked to the edge of an artificial pond adjacent to Roy’s restaurant. We observed four adult Black-crowned Night- Herons and two immature birds. In addition twenty-five Mallards, one Northern Pintail and twelve Black Swans shared the small pond with the Herons.
Several people began throwing bread in the water close to the bank and we watched a immature Black-crowned Night-Heron go to the bread and begin to push it down deeper into the water repeatedly. It was apparent the Heron knew that the fish would come closer if it could submerge the "bait" low enough. After several seconds, the Heron caught a fish. In the span of ten minutes we watched the Heron repeat this fishing behavior successfully four times.
We then threw some bread on the grass to see if the immature Heron would move it into the water. We watched the bird for thirty minutes and did see it pick up several pieces of bread and move it several feet and then drop it into the water and then catch a fish. At times the bird seemed disinterested or not quite expert at this method of fishing but that might be due to the fact it was full or because the twelve Black Swans were continuously stealing the bread or otherwise interfering with the Heron’s fishing behavior.
We then tried to see if an adult Black-crowned Night- Heron also knew this fishing technique by placing several pieces of bread in the grass about two feet from the water’s edge. Within seconds, the adult Heron picked it up and dropped it into the water and subsequently caught a fish. The adult Heron seemed to be more proficient in getting the bread into the water.
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