Do Lions Eat Birds?

Skeleton Coast Namibia
Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo: BigTrip.cz
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Do lions eat birds? Lions will eat pretty well anything and have been recorded eating ‘almost every imaginable land mammal and even a few aquatic ones…’.

This huge range of prey includes birds when they are available and there is an interesting story online today in The Guardian which supports the fact that lions eat birds.

Click on the picture for a large format version..

Lioness carries dead cormorant
Lioness carries dead cormorant. Photo: P Stander/Namibian Journal of Environment

In Namibia the desert lions have turned to hunting seabirds and seals. This is because food is scarce in the desert of the country’s Skeleton Coast region.

The 130-150 lions living in this region with rainfall as low as 0.2 inches per year are the only lions known to prey on marine life. The low rainfall begs the question as to whether the lions have also adapted to obtaining most of their water from prey like the sand cat.

With respect to birds, they eat flamingos and cormorants in this arid region and seals. There are one million seals in the area breeding on the shoreline.

Whilst the land does not support enough prey for the lion, the ocean is rich in wildlife which has resulted in the lions adapting. The picture at the top of the page shows a lioness carrying a cormorant on a beach and there appears to be a large number of dead animals in the same area. It was taken by P. Stander of the Namibian Journal of Environment.

Note: The quote in the first paragraph is from Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist page 290.

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