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Nature. 2004 Sep 2;431(7004):39.

Animal behaviour: use of dung as a tool by burrowing owls.

Author information

  • 1Department of Zoology, PO Box 118525, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-8525, USA. dlevey@zoo.ufl.edu


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.

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