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Stilts do not protect against crawlers: Limpkins preyed on by Tegu Lizards at an urban park

Juliana Vaz Hipolito, Ivan Sazima

Abstract


Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) is a long-legged wading bird that forages mostly in wetlands in the open and occasionally under tree cover. This large bird is cautious and frequently scans its immediate environs when active or resting. Records of adult Limpkin predators are scarce and restricted to two very large aquatic reptiles, the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in North America and the Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) in South America. Herein we report on two Limpkins killed and eaten by Black and White Tegus (Salvator merianae) at an urban park in southeastern Brazil. One of the Limpkins was still alive when we came across the predation event, whereas the other Limpkin seemed freshly killed. The first Limpkin was already sprawled on the ground and occasionally opened the bill, vocalised hoarsely and fl apped the wings, while the Tegu repeatedly bit the bird on several body parts, which gradually weakened the bird. The Limpkin died when the Tegu bit hard the bird on the head and crushed the skull. In the second event the bird was bitten on several body parts and, thus, we assume that it was also killed by the Tegu that was eating the fresh corpse. The two events comprised two Tegu individuals recognisable by natural marks. Limpkins killed and consumed by Tegus probably are a rare occurrence. Tegus are large by Neotropical lizard standards, but are small compared with the other two very large reptiles known to prey on Limpkins. Presently, only three reptilian species are documented as predators of adult Limpkins.


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