Remarkable footage shows heron using bread as bait to catch fish

The next time someone calls you a bird brain, you might take it as a compliment. Remarkable footage posted below shows a green heron setting out a piece of bread–instead of eating the bread–to catch a hefty fish. It’s a rare instance of tool use and critical thinking displayed by animals.

Writes Robert T. Gonzales in the science website io9:

“Not only is it demonstrating logic and reason in its capacity to understand that a piece of bread can be used as bait, it’s also passing up the chance to eat the bread in favor of a better meal, actively weighing cost and benefit, pitting immediate gratification against delayed satisfaction. It’s a stunning display of animal intelligence.

“This skill is even more intriguing when you realize that not all Green Heron actually hunt this way; the species has a wide geographic distribution, but bait-fishing only pops up in a few places, including the southern U.S., southern Japan, and western Africa.”

States a passage in the “Cool Facts” section of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website: “The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.”

In other words, it’s a better fisherman than most human anglers.

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