The bird and the golf ball

A video has been making the rounds recently of a bird on a golf course, where it appears to be ‘playing’ with a golf ball.

It’s an amazing sight, and something I’d never heard of before.

It turns out that the bird in question is a red-legged seriema (Cariama cristata), a species native to South America (the video appears to be from Brazil). They’re known for the unusual way in which they kill their prey – by throwing them forcefully against a hard surface. They normally do this with reptiles and other small animals. Here is a seriema killing a toad:

It’s hard to say whether the seriema with the golf ball thinks it has food in its mouth or not. People on Reddit think the bird is trying to open some kind of shellfish (although I couldn’t find evidence that shellfish are a part of their diet in the wild, and their distribution does not extend to the coast).

Either way, whether it’s true or not, it’s nice to imagine the seriema is just having some fun with a new toy it found.

Spotted on Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True.