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Predatory Behaviour of Young Turquoise-Browed Motmots, Eumomota Superciliosa

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Nine young hand-reared motmots were tested for their responses to still and moving models of prey. The birds were given two series of cylindrical models. Series A bore various combinations of 4 cues: ink eye, pin eye, neck and motion. The birds responded significantly to every one, but motion was by far the most highly directing cue tested. Series B bore various colours and patterns, both as solidly coloured models and as present only on one third (either middle or end). The results from the solidly coloured models show (a) the birds were not inhibited by any plain colour tested; (b) they tended to ignore a camouflaged model; and (c) they showed strong aversion to a pattern that resembled a coral snake. The results of the coloured section models indicate that motmots are attracted to the dissimilar section only when it is one of the ends. This attraction to the different end, plus the highly directed response to motion, are probably sufficient to enable motmots to take small vertebrates such as lizards quickly and efficiently.

Affiliations: 1: Depto de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria, Costa Rica


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