Great tits bite head off sleeping bats

Headless BatIn a cave in Hungary the birds with the funny name, the great tits, have been caught sneaking up on hibernating bats and biting their head off.

This very surprising behaviour of a small bird that usually only eat caterpillars and such. The great tits are thought to only resort to anti-bat violence when food is otherwise scarce.

“The birds don’t kill the bats before they start eating them,” says [bat ecologist Björn] Siemers, “but the bats eventually die when the birds peck open their brain case.”

As the bats are still very cold, only a degree above ambient temperature, they are extremely slow and easy for the birds to subdue. Nevertheless, it is a considerable feat for the tits given that a pipistrelle weighs approximately 5 grams and a great tit only four times as much. [New Scientist]

There’s anecdotal evidence that the great tits in that cave have been doing this for more than a decade. If this is true it suggests that the birds Ozzy Ozbourne impersonations have been passed on culturally through the generations.

Blue tits in Britain famously exhibited such learned behaviour when one of them learned to open milk bottles and the trick spread through out the country.

Also, “great tits” is the best name for anything, anywhere. Just wanted to say.

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