Bird behavior: fight for an Iguana tail

Trying to impress the opponent.

One of our bird monitoring points is located in the middle of the Brievengat district in a fairly busy area. Every time we do our research work at this location, we have interesting meetings and conversations with people from the neighborhood, who walk by or cycle and want to know what we do. The knowledge about local flora and fauna is incredible and everybody has some amazing stories to tell about recent adventures in the wild ‘mondi’ (Papiamentu for forest or wild place), or about their childhood.

This time on arrival we found a boy of about 8 years old, on a self-made (!) bicycle, who had his eye on a fat iguana lying on the dirt road, the main ingredient of the soup or stobá for his family that evening (*). With his bare hands, he finally got hold of the animal, but the tail broke off and continued to wriggle on the ground. After he respectfully placed the animal in a cotton bag, he cycled home after a final greeting to us. The still wriggling tail on the path attracted a lot of attention and within seconds an interested Chuchubi was on the spot. It could maybe be a fine meal for the end of the day. However, before he could grab it, a second Chuchubi came in as well, looking at the possible meal with great interest.

On the photo the two birds with, in front, out of focus, the iguana’s tail.
Curacao, October 2021

Then the battle between the two birds began. Stamping their feet on the ground, opening and closing their wings, the birds tried to impress each other in order to determine which of the two could take the tail. They danced around each other for more than 5 minutes, all the while taking a closer look at the no longer writhing tail. A passing hiker finally decided the outcome of the battle; they both flew off, without the tail.

(*) Iguana stew or soup is a staple food and also a historical dish on the island of Curacao. Some love it and some hate it. But especially now, with a large part of the population hit very hard by the effects of Corona and the implemented measures, it is one of the main sources of protein on the island for families who were hit very hard and have no means to deal with the ever-increasing prices of food in stores. Iguanas are not endangered on the island at the moment.

ENG: Tropical Mockingbird
NL: Caribische spotlijster
PAP: Chuchubi
SCIE: Mimus gilvus

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