Guide Tigers and Songbirds

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Feldheim usually looks at shark DNA to study relationships between individual sharks. But he agreed to try to identify the feathers with DNA barcoding, a technique that lets scientists identify a species based on a short strand of mitochondrial DNA.

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The analysis showed that the feathers came from a brown thrasher, a type of terrestrial songbird. Intrigued, Drymon searched the scientific literature, finding a handful of reports of tiger sharks eating terrestrial birds, and he decided to investigate how prevalent these meals were.

During monthly surveys from to , he and his colleagues collected the stomach contents from tiger sharks — by dissecting dead sharks and washing out the stomachs of live ones — and sent them to Feldheim for analysis. You could just take it out of the jar and it just smelled horrible. Forty-one, or 39 percent, of the sharks contained bird remains from 11 species : eight songbirds including barn swallows and house wrens along with white-winged doves, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and the American coot, the only water bird of the bunch, the researchers report online May 21 in Ecology.

The part of the Gulf where Drymon works is near the last spot migratory birds can land before they take off for Mexico in the fall. But when he looked at the timing of when the birds showed up in the sharks, he could see that most of the birds were eaten in the fall. And so Drymon reached out to Mississippi State colleague Auriel Fournier, an ornithologist, to make sense of it all.


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They consulted eBird , an online database of bird sightings, and hashed it out with other colleagues over lunches. Earlier this week, a group of expert birders in Canada were treated to a staggering sight: more than , warblers over nine hours. View the discussion thread. Two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. U rge Congress to act now. Marcus Drymon right and a colleague gather stomach contents from a young tiger shark in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why Are Scientists Finding Tiger Sharks With Songbirds In Their Bellies? | IFLScience

Photo: David Hay Jones Between and , Drymon examined the stomach contents of tiger sharks and found bird remains in 41 of them. Science Sooty Feathers Tell the History of Pollution in American Cities Preserved birds and digital photos help pinpoint levels of black carbon and the changes that led to its decline.

Birding Incredible Combination of Factors Leads to Historic Migration Flight Earlier this week, a group of expert birders in Canada were treated to a staggering sight: more than , warblers over nine hours. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates. Protect Birds from Climate Change Two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. Take Action. Get Audubon in Your Inbox Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news.

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How Songbirds End Up in a Tiger Shark’s Stomach

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