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Surprising study says tiger sharks eat backyard birds

Thursday, May 23rd 2019, 5:51 pm - Scientists say they did not expect the results of their study.

A surprising study has revealed baby tiger sharks regularly eat sparrows, woodpeckers and doves and other common "backyard" birds.

The sharks -- which are often referred to as "garbage cans of the sea"-- are known to eat anything and everything, including dolphins and rubber tires.

But this is the first time scientists have collected evidence the sharks eat land-based birds.

All of the sharks involved in the study lived off the Gulf of Mexico and they hunted songbirds during migration season.

"Tiger sharks will see an easy meal and snatch it up, but I was surprised to learn that the sharks were eating songbirds -- I assumed that they'd be seabirds," Kevin Feldheim, a researcher at Chicago's Field Museum and a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

"The tiger sharks scavenge on songbirds that have trouble flying over the ocean. During migration, they're already worn out, and then they get tired or fall into the ocean during a storm."

Feldheim added that songbirds are likely viewed as easy prey because they have a harder time swimming in the ocean than seabirds.

The full paper can be found in the journal Ecology.


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