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Sight or smell : which senses do scavenging raptors use to find food?

Potier, Simon LU ; Duriez, Olivier; Célérier, Aurélie; Liegeois, Jean Louis and Bonadonna, Francesco (2019) In Animal Cognition 22(1). p.49-59
Abstract

Raptors are usually considered to be mainly visually dependent, and the use of other sensory modalities has rarely been studied in these birds. Here, we investigated experimentally which senses (vision and/or olfaction) Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) and Southern caracaras (Caracara plancus) use to find hidden food. First, two identical stainless-steel perforated balls, one containing a putrefied piece of meat and the other an odorless control, were presented to birds in binary choice experiments. Both species interacted more with the smelling ball than with the control, suggesting that they were attracted by the odor of the hidden meat. In a second experiment, individuals were accustomed to eat in one specifically colored ball (blue... (More)

Raptors are usually considered to be mainly visually dependent, and the use of other sensory modalities has rarely been studied in these birds. Here, we investigated experimentally which senses (vision and/or olfaction) Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) and Southern caracaras (Caracara plancus) use to find hidden food. First, two identical stainless-steel perforated balls, one containing a putrefied piece of meat and the other an odorless control, were presented to birds in binary choice experiments. Both species interacted more with the smelling ball than with the control, suggesting that they were attracted by the odor of the hidden meat. In a second experiment, individuals were accustomed to eat in one specifically colored ball (blue or green). In the test phase, the meat was hidden in the opposite color with respect to the one each bird had become accustomed to. Vultures still interacted more with the smelly ball disregarding the color, while caracaras interacted equally with the two balls. The prevalence of olfaction in Turkey vultures may partly explain why they are the first raptors to find carcasses in tropical forests. In contrast, caracaras forage on the ground opportunistically, a strategy where both olfaction and sight may be involved. Our experiments suggest that both species are able to use olfactory cues for foraging. However, olfaction could be the predominant sense in Turkey vultures while olfaction and sight could play an equivalent role in Southern caracaras.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Foraging, Olfaction, Raptors, Southern caracara, Turkey vulture, Vision
in
Animal Cognition
volume
22
issue
1
pages
49 - 59
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:85055958074
ISSN
1435-9448
DOI
10.1007/s10071-018-1220-0
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8eeaeb8b-c8ad-4cfb-ba0e-afabc501858a
date added to LUP
2018-11-19 10:51:03
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:36:32
@article{8eeaeb8b-c8ad-4cfb-ba0e-afabc501858a,
  abstract     = {<p>Raptors are usually considered to be mainly visually dependent, and the use of other sensory modalities has rarely been studied in these birds. Here, we investigated experimentally which senses (vision and/or olfaction) Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) and Southern caracaras (Caracara plancus) use to find hidden food. First, two identical stainless-steel perforated balls, one containing a putrefied piece of meat and the other an odorless control, were presented to birds in binary choice experiments. Both species interacted more with the smelling ball than with the control, suggesting that they were attracted by the odor of the hidden meat. In a second experiment, individuals were accustomed to eat in one specifically colored ball (blue or green). In the test phase, the meat was hidden in the opposite color with respect to the one each bird had become accustomed to. Vultures still interacted more with the smelly ball disregarding the color, while caracaras interacted equally with the two balls. The prevalence of olfaction in Turkey vultures may partly explain why they are the first raptors to find carcasses in tropical forests. In contrast, caracaras forage on the ground opportunistically, a strategy where both olfaction and sight may be involved. Our experiments suggest that both species are able to use olfactory cues for foraging. However, olfaction could be the predominant sense in Turkey vultures while olfaction and sight could play an equivalent role in Southern caracaras.</p>},
  author       = {Potier, Simon and Duriez, Olivier and Célérier, Aurélie and Liegeois, Jean Louis and Bonadonna, Francesco},
  issn         = {1435-9448},
  keyword      = {Foraging,Olfaction,Raptors,Southern caracara,Turkey vulture,Vision},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {49--59},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Animal Cognition},
  title        = {Sight or smell : which senses do scavenging raptors use to find food?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-018-1220-0},
  volume       = {22},
  year         = {2019},
}