Animal behaviour: Use of dung as a tool by burrowing owls

  title={Animal behaviour: Use of dung as a tool by burrowing owls},
  author={Douglas J. Levey and R. Scot Duncan and Carrie F. Levins},
Reports of tool usage by birds tend to be anecdotal as only a few individuals may be involved and the behaviour observed can often be interpreted in other ways. Here we describe the widespread collection of mammalian dung by burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) and show that they use this dung as a bait to attract dung beetles, a major item of prey. Our controlled investigation provides an unambiguous estimate of the importance of tool use in a wild animal. 

Use of mammal manure by nesting burrowing owls: a test of four functional hypotheses

Non-foraging tool use in European Honey-buzzards: An experimental test

A field experiment aimed to test whether an observed suite of odd behaviors by European Honey-buzzards represents use of green twigs cut from trees and woody shrubs as a tool to attract ants for anting, lending support to the inclusion of the reported behavioral sequence by this raptor species as a potential example of tool use in birds outside the usual foraging context.

Functions of extensive animal dung “pavements” around the nests of the Black Lark (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis)

These pavements constructed by female Black Larks around their nests may be multifunctional, but identifying the adaptive drivers of the behavior requires further research.

Tool-use in the brown bear (Ursus arctos)

  • V. Deecke
  • Environmental Science
    Animal Cognition
  • 2012
This is the first report of tool-using behaviour in a wild brown bear (Ursus arctos) and it clearly shows that these animals possess the advanced motor learning necessary for tool-use.

Owls May Use Faeces and Prey Feathers to Signal Current Reproduction

Descriptive and experimental evidence is presented showing that faeces and prey remains could act as previously unrecognized visual signals in a nocturnal avian predator.

Collection of Mammal Manure and Other Debris By Nesting Burrowing Owls

The results did not support the premise that Burrowing Owls specifically seek out manure when lining their nesting burrows, and alternative hypotheses need further testing before the function of this behavior is certain.

Removal of old nest material decreases reuse of artificial burrows by burrowing owls

Cleaning by removal of nest material from previously used artificial burrows may be counterproductive if maximizing reuse of nest sites by burrowing owls is a management objective.

Nest Dimensions, Burrow-Lining, and Decoration Behavior of Burrowing Owls in the Pampas

Abstract. Nesting in burrows is uncommon among birds, but one example of a burrow-nesting raptor is the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia). In most areas of North America, where this raptor has been

Behavioral ecology of Phanaeus dung beetles (Coleoptera: scarabaeidae): review and new observations

The genus Phanaeus Macleay comprises an important part of the Neotropical dung beetle fauna. With a few exceptions, these beetles are preferentially coprophagous, exploiting the moist excrement of



The ecology of tool-use in the woodpecker finch (Cactospiza pallida)

The data suggest that tool-use in the woodpecker finch has evolved in response to the dry and the wet seasons, and enabled the birds to reach particularly large and otherwise inaccessible prey hidden in tree-holes.

Selected Aspects of Burrowing Owl Ecology and Behavior

I studied a population of 15 breeding pairs of Burrowing Owls and their offspring from 5 May 1970 to 20 May 1971 near Albuquerque, New Mexico and captured two young owls were captured during their first observed emergence from their nest burrow and maintained in captivity for behavioral studies.

Shaping of Hooks in New Caledonian Crows

Primates are considered the most versatile and complex tool users, but observations of New Caledonian crows raise the possibility that these birds also understand physical forces or causal relations.

Crows do not use automobiles as nutcrackers: putting an oft-repeated anecdote to the test

hook-tools (Hunt 1996). In many cases only a single instance of the putative intelligent behavior has been observed (e.g. Montevecchi 1978, Andersson 1989). One behavior, the use of automobiles to

Manufacture and use of hook-tools by New Caledonian crows

New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides are reported on the manufacture and use of two different types of hook tool to aid prey capture: hooked-twig and stepped-cut barbed pandanus leaf.

Raven tool use

The influence of direction altering of stellar or magnetic meridians on orientation of European Robins in circular cages at planetarium, p. 182-193, is illustrated in H. Michelsons, Orientation of birds.


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  • 2002


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Competing financial interests: declared none. brief communications arising online ➧ Superconductors: Time-reversal symmetry

  • Plant Syst. Evol
  • 1995