Owls Use Dung to “Fish” for Beetles

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 1, 2004   View Article

Burrowing owls have an affinity for the dung of other animals. Their underground nests and surrounding areas are carpeted with the stinky stuff. Now a team of researchers has found at least one reason why all this fecal matter matters to the owls: It’s bait for dung beetles, the owls’ favorite grub.

The research, reported in today’s issue of the science journal Nature, demonstrates that burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) deliberately use mammal dung as a tool to reel in a meal—and in the process substantially increase the number of dung beetles they eat.

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