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Vangas: Vangidae - Diet

species prey insects bird

All vanga species are primarily insectivorous, feeding mostly on insects and related creatures like spiders, although some species add small amounts of fruit to their menus, and some spice up their insect diets with frogs, lizards, snails, mouse lemurs, and young birds.

Vangas consume insects and related creatures by means of four methods: gleaning, or plucking insects off leaves, twigs, branches, and bark while the bird is perching; sally gleaning, or gleaning while flying tight loops about the feeding site; flycatching, in which a bird on the wing snags and eats flying insects; and probing, in which the bird uses its bill to poke under and tear off strips of tree bark to reach insects. A vanga species may use one of these feeding methods, or various combinations.

When handling relatively large prey, too large to be downed in a single gulp, some vanga species engage in "clamping" or "grasping." When clamping, a perching vanga, having caught the prey with its bill, transfers it to one of the perching feet, which holds the prey against the branch. When grasping, a vanga holds the prey in an outstretched foot that is not grasping a branch. In either case, the vanga then tears apart and eats its prey.

Vangas may forage together in mixed-species flocks of two or more vanga species and sometimes including insectivorous bird species of other families, for protection in numbers and for helping one another find food.


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