BABIES of a bird species called the Eurasian roller vomit a foul-smelling orange liquid as a defence mechanism against predators, biologists have discovered. Offspring of the bright-blue jackdaw-sized bird – Latin name Coracias garrulus – throw up the repugnant fluid when they are frightened in their nests, according to a paper appearing in the journal Biology Letters.
Covered in vomit, the nestlings not surprisingly become less attractive as a snack, the team says. But the smell also alerts parents, returning to the nest, that a threatening incident has happened in their absence, they believe.
Previous research has found that birds have a surprisingly wide range of defensive reactions. For instance, the northern fulmar (Fulmaris glacialis) yawks up stomach oils against intruders that makes them lose their waterproof coating. And the common eider (Somateria mollissima) and northern shoveler (Anas acuta) have the ability to spray faeces on their eggs to deter mammal egg-thieves. (From the Brisbane «Courier-Mail»)