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Old Jun 2, 2006, 9:50 AM   #11
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tigerwings1st wrote:
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Hey, you know what? Don't be so sure he won't pass his skill on the his decendents. He probably learned it from another Heron! COOL photos and interesting story

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agreed! animals don't know everything from instinct. much is passed on from parentalexampleor even from observing other animals.

great shots. thanks for sharing!


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Old Jun 2, 2006, 10:19 AM   #12
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DBB A great photographer and a philosopher too!
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 5:20 PM   #13
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RONiN of Hillbillies wrote:
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tigerwings1st wrote:
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Hey, you know what? Don't be so sure he won't pass his skill on the his decendents. He probably learned it from another Heron! COOL photos and interesting story

tigerwings1st
agreed! animals don't know everything from instinct. much is passed on from parental example or even from observing other animals.

great shots. thanks for sharing!
I think this question of instinct and learning is more complex then that. No, I don't think this Heron learned from example, or learned by observation. Nor do I think he will pass it on.

But then again...

Herring Gulls instinctively lift clams, and drop them on the rocks. But they don't start out that way. Young ones will lift a clam ten feet and drop it back on the sand.

I observed (and photographed the whole sequence) of one young Gull doing this fifty times, until he stood next to the clam Screaming in frustration. Yet the older ones, will take the clam, go up fifty feet, fly to the shore and drop it on rocks - dinner. So some learning is involved here. But you would think that other species of Gulls would learn this.

And then I saw one Gull with a paper cup. he shoved HUGE clams into the cup and then dropped them! A Gull cannot use their feet to lift a clam, so they are limited in the size of the clam.

Will this be passed on? A Gull Einstein?

I think discoveries like this are made by individual animals, and then mostly forgotten. But the Herring Gull and it's clam dropping somehow EVENTUALLY gets embedded and becomes instinct.

But us? We DO have language. Our discoveries can easily be told to friends and children. We have no need for the hard wiring that these birds use to slowly, very slowly take advantage of discoveries.

What is interesting is that a recent convention of Ornotholgists have concluded that while birds lack a cortex, they have a substitute part of their brain that preforms the same function.

Just my thoughts. I have no real answers, but my observations certainly provoke questions.

Dave
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 6:24 PM   #14
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thus the term "birdbrain"? It's the old debate on intelligence for any species, human or bird or otherwise - how much is nurture and how much is nature? Being an old teacher (sometimes I think ancient!) - I tend to lean towards giving learned behavior more credit thank the other...........but then, if you look at my dog ( that's Dawg), it sure isn't true in her case. She's as dumb as dirt!
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 6:26 PM   #15
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Yikes, my whole message was black. How'd I do that? - here's what I wrote -

thus the term "birdbrain"? It's the old debate on intelligence for any species, human or bird or otherwise - how much is nurture and how much is nature? Being an old teacher (sometimes I think ancient!) - I tend to lean towards giving learned behavior more credit thank the other...........but then, if you look at my dog ( that's Dawg), it sure isn't true in her case. She's as dumb as dirt!
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 7:17 PM   #16
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It was probably twenty years ago that National Geographic did an article on Sea World. They ended up doing a separate article on a green heron that would swipe the pellets they fed the fish and fly away with them. They followed the green heron and he was using the pellets to fish in a nearby stream much as your little blue heron is using the fish. If he didn't get a bite he would try his pellet somewhere else.

They have since learned that fishing with bait is common with green herons and it is included in most of the bios at bird sites. They use small fish, insects, sticks feathers and shiny objects among the things people have seen them fish with. I think the behavior must be partly instinctive since so many green herons do it. But he also showed quite a bit of intelligence to observe that the small fish were eating the pellets and deduce that he could use it for fishing. It probably took a bit of cleverness to find ways to grab pellets since fishing birds aren't welcome near the fish.

Both little blue herons and green herons are solitary. I don't think they often learn from each other. My guess is that the behavior is partly hereditary and counts on intelligence to learn and use. I've never seen a green heron and little blue close to each other, but I guess it is possible your little blue learned it from a green. Or just figured it out himself.

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Old Jun 2, 2006, 7:33 PM   #17
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slipe wrote:
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It was probably twenty years ago that National Geographic did an article on Sea World. They ended up doing a separate article on a green heron that would swipe the pellets they fed the fish and fly away with them. They followed the green heron and he was using the pellets to fish in a nearby stream much as your little blue heron is using the fish. If he didn't get a bite he would try his pellet somewhere else.

They have since learned that fishing with bait is common with green herons and it is included in most of the bios at bird sites. They use small fish, insects, sticks feathers and shiny objects among the things people have seen them fish with. I think the behavior must be partly instinctive since so many green herons do it. But he also showed quite a bit of intelligence to observe that the small fish were eating the pellets and deduce that he could use it for fishing. It probably took a bit of cleverness to find ways to grab pellets since fishing birds aren't welcome near the fish.

Both little blue herons and green herons are solitary. I don't think they often learn from each other. My guess is that the behavior is partly hereditary and counts on intelligence to learn and use. I've never seen a green heron and little blue close to each other, but I guess it is possible your little blue learned it from a green. Or just figured it out himself.
A thousand thanks for your post.

I speculate that from time to time a discovery such as the one you post and the one on this thread, get "passed down," by getting into the hard wiring of the bird.

What the possible mechanisms for this are beyond me. I intend to talk this over with an ornithologist.

Snowy Egrets also have a neat trick. They vibrate thier rear leg, either left or right, to get fish off the bottom. I've watched newly fledged birds do this poorly, and I've seen them "watch adults."

While I can't make an authoratiative statment on the subject, I've never seen Green Herons hunt along side anyone else, while Little Blues have no hesitation about hunting with other Herons.

Thanks again.

Dave
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Old Jun 3, 2006, 7:10 AM   #18
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Hey DBB great series considering and even more so that I have learnt something amasing about these guys. I didnt know that they did this but it wouldn't suprise me. Nice capture and worth finding out if anyone can use these in a Mag. I love birds and do a lot of reading on them and they really are very intelligent animals.
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