Home Environmental Study: Everglades Birds Feed Babies To Alligators For Protection

Study: Everglades Birds Feed Babies To Alligators For Protection

John Spade via Flickr Creative Commons

The Everglades is a dangerous place. The list of animals able to kill you is comically large: One must stay on the lookout for pythons, alligators, bobcats, panthers, and even bears, not to mention mosquitoes, which can carry anything from dengue fever to West Nile virus to Zika.

When human beings have found themselves trapped in unsafe situations, they have in many cases paid bigger, stronger, scarier entities, like the Mafia, to protect them. It turns out wild animals are no different: According to astudy released yesterday, birds in the Everglades have worked out a sick sort of truce with native alligators: They routinely feed their children to the gators in exchange for protection.

According to the study, led by University of Florida researcher Lucas Nell, ibises, storks, and herons often produce more chicks than they can care for. Most of these birds just starve to death. But, in the sections of the Everglades that Nell’s team studied, which covers parts of Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties, the birds intentionally nest in trees just above where alligators regularly hang out. The birds do this for an obvious reason: The reptiles can’t fly up and eat them but do, regularly, snack on nest-raiding predators, like raccoons.

By BrowardPalmBeachNewTimes, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Mar. 3, 2016