Reader input – unusual meal

This post is also available in: Dutch.

Very special prey!

Picture by: Jeroen Voolstra @ Curacao

We often receive tremendous pictures from readers of our blog, fans of the Facebook page or people who are reading the articles about nature, published in local newspaper Antilliaans Dagblad. The pictures often depict an animal, plant, location or nature moment which is unique and tells an entire story.

This is such a picture, made in the back of the garden of Jeroen Voolstra on Curacao. The bird you see is the Green Heron, locally knows as ‘Galiña di awa‘ or ‘water chicken’ (Butorides virescens ssp maculata). Normally you will find this bird in mangrove areas or along the coast where it hunts for small fish and crustaceans. However, the bird in the picture was not only found inland, nowhere close to mangroves or water, it also caught a totally different kind of prey: a lizard.

Detail of the catch

We have seen these birds eat anything from small crabs to grasshoppers, but it is the first time we have seen it eating a lizard, and especially this particular species of lizard. If you observe closely you will see that the tail of the lizard in its beak has an orange tip. When we zoomed in on this detail it became clear that this Heron was savoring a particular special species, the Striped Spectacled Tegu or ‘kolebra di mispel’, or ‘Gestreepte Brilteju’ (Gymnophthalmus lineatus). This particular species generally keeps out of sight in between leaf matter. Many people think it is a snake because of the fact that the legs and feet of the animal are quite short and small and therefore difficult to see. Hence the name ‘kolebra’ which means snake in Papiamentu. These animals roam around in between dead leafs under large trees and hunt for insects. It is thought that the way of life of this lizard species has evolved into the way it is because of high predator pressure of, for instance, other larger lizard species as well as the Tropical Mockingbird (Chuchubi) and other birds.

With this picture we start a new series on this website where the fan/reader plays the prominent role and we feature his or her picture with the corresponding story. Thank you very much, Jeroen, for your input! We can’t wait to see your next story/picture.