I Seem to Learn Something New Every Outing

When I shot these photos, I thought the parent was feeding a small fish to its chicks. It wasn’t until I saw the shots on the computer I realized the parent was feeding the chicks a feather, not a fish.

Amazingly, both of the juveniles looked eager to get the feather.

When the parent dunked the feather, I thought it was making sure the catch was dead, a common behavior.

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There seemed to be much jostling between the chicks, and some trash talking.

One chick seemed to be closest to the feather,

but the other chick ended up eating it after the first chick seemed to lose interest in it.

Not sure whether the chick was begging for another feather or complaining that he had been conned and had wasted all the effort trying to get a fish.

Since I got another shot of grebes feeding feathers to their chicks, I did some research on the internet and discovered that it is a common practice. Researchers seem to be unsure why feathers are consumed but suggest it might help to protect the bird from the bones of the fish they’ve swallowed whole. Having choked on more than a few salmon bones as a kid, that theory made sense to me.

What do you think?