Sharks are eating British songbirds, scientists find

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Tiger sharks are eating our songbirds (Getty)

Scientists wrestled three tiger sharks onto a boat and pumped their stomachs – and found they had been guzzling songbirds such as sparrows and doves.

The tiger sharks are thought to eat migrating songbirds such as sparrows, doves and woodpeckers.

The sharks eat the birds when they are young, before growing to their adult size of up to 15 feet.

Dr Kevin Feldheim, a researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum, used DNA analysis of the sharks stomachs to understand their unusual diet.

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Of the 105 sharks studied, 41 had the remains of birds in their stomachs.

Feldheim said, ‘Tiger sharks will see an easy meal and snatch it up, but I was surprised to learn that the sharks were eating songbirds – I assumed that they’d be seabirds.

“It was one of the coolest projects I’ve been associated with using DNA to tell a story.”

Study co-author Dr Marcus Drymon said, ‘None of them were seagulls, pelicans, cormorants, or any kind of marine bird.

‘They were all terrestrial birds – the kinds that might live in your back yard.’

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