Field Cameras Catch Deer Eating Birds—Wait, Why Do Deer Eat Birds?

Discussion in 'General Hunting' started by EC, May 9, 2017.

  1. EC

    EC 12 pointer

    Jul 13, 2003
    Louisville, KY.
    When people would ask me (usually from some grocery clerk I was buying a hunting mag from) why I deer hunted, I used to say jokingly "because they're evil flesh eaters and would eat you if they caught you".

    Looks like I was right after all!


    Field Cameras Catch Deer Eating Birds—Wait, Why Do Deer Eat Birds?
    Esther Inglis-Arkell

    3/04/15 3:40pm
    Filed to: animals

    Deer aren’t the slim, graceful vegans we thought they were. Scientists using field cameras have caught deer preying on nestling song birds. And it’s not just deer. Herbivores the world over may be supplementing their diets.

    When researchers in North Dakota set up “nest cams” over the nests of song birds, they expected to see a lot of nestlings and eggs get taken by ground squirrels, foxes, and badgers. Squirrels hit thirteen nests, but other meat-eaters made a poor showing. Foxes and weasels only took one nest each. Know what fearsome animal out-did either of those two sleek, resourceful predators?

    White-tailed deer.

    These supposed herbivores placidly ate living nestlings right out of the nest. And if you’re thinking that it must be a mistake, that the deer were chewing their way through some vegetation and happened to get a mouthful of bird, think again. Up in Canada, a group of ornithologists were studying adult birds. In order to examine them closely, the researchers used “mist-nets.” These nets, usually draped between trees, are designed to trap birds or bats gently so they can be collected, studied, and released. When a herd of deer came by, they deer walked up to the struggling birds and ate them alive, right out of the nets.

    This behavior is not limited to one species or one continent. Last year, a farmer in India made a video of a cow eating a recently-hatched chick. Some scientists speculate that herbivores turn to meat when they’re not getting enough nutrients in their diet. It’s possible. A biologist in Scotland documented red deer eating seabird chicks, and concluded it was how they got the dietary boost necessary to grow their antlers. The same researcher also documented sheep eating the heads and legs off of seabird chicks. And then there’s another cow in India, which reportedly ate fifty chickens. There may be a specific need that drives herbivores to occasionally eat meat. It’s also possible, experts say, that eating meat, when it can’t run away from them, is just something supposed “herbivores” do, and we’re finally getting wise to it.

    The famous line from The Simpsons might be accurate - If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you ever cared about.
  2. FOWLER2671

    FOWLER2671 12 pointer

    Sep 11, 2009
    Evicted from Aintry'
    Save the ducks, Kill more deer!
  3. FOWLER2671

    FOWLER2671 12 pointer

    Sep 11, 2009
    Evicted from Aintry'
    Makes you wonder if Quail are harmed more by the much larger deer herd then they are by more well known predators?
  4. EC

    EC 12 pointer

    Jul 13, 2003
    Louisville, KY.
    Something to seriously consider in light of this article.
    FOWLER2671 likes this.
  5. EdLongshanks

    EdLongshanks 12 pointer

    Nov 16, 2013
    Northern Kentucky
    I know a carriage driver that swore his horse's favorite treat was a cheese burger.

    I'm still baffled.
  6. Gooch

    Gooch 8 pointer

    Feb 24, 2004
    .lincoln co ky
  7. mudhole crossing

    mudhole crossing 12 pointer

    Aug 20, 2007
    East ky
    That explains the decline of turkey population. Deer eating the chicks.
  8. davers

    davers 10 pointer

    Jul 14, 2014
    Deer, especially Doe, also feed on young rabbits, for protein.
  9. reivertom

    reivertom 12 pointer

    Dec 17, 2007
    Greenup Co.
    I heard many years ago that deer occasionally ate mice and other small animals, but I never thought of birds in nests. I thought it might have been one of those "wives tales", but I guess it wasn't!
  10. SmokeShow

    SmokeShow 10 pointer

    Nov 11, 2013
    That's pretty wild. Thanks for sharing!

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