Utilisation of Anvils by the Trinidad Motmot (Momotus bahamensis) in Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

Mike G. Rutherford, Giovanni Bianco


In June 2012 the remains of terrestrial snail shells were found next to rocks on forest paths in several locations in north-eastern Tobago, W.I. It was surmised that an avian predator had been responsible. In June-July 2013 camera trapping and direct filming revealed that a Trinidad Motmot (Momotus bahamensis) was using the rocks as anvils to break open snail shells and other hard-bodied prey items.

Full Text:



Allen, J.A. 2004. Avian and Mammalian Predators of Terrestrial Gastropods. p. 1-36. In G.M. Barker, ed. Natural Enemies of Terrestrial Molluscs. CABI Publishing, Oxfordshire, U.K. 640 p.

Andrade, L., Klootwijk, A., Parkyn, J. and Specht, A. 2011. Initial observations of a population of Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail Thersites mitchellae Cox 1864. Australian Zoologist,35(3): 590-598.

Boswall, J. 1977. Tool-using by birds and related behaviour. Avicultural Magazine, 83: 88-97, 146-159, 220-228.

Boswall, J. 1978. Further notes on tool-using by birds and related behaviour. Avicultural Magazine, 84: 162-166.

Boswall, J. 1983. Tool-using and related behaviour in birds: yet more notes. Avicultural Magazine, 89: 170-181.

ffrench, R. 1991. A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago, 2nd Ed. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 426 p.

Goodhart, C.B. 1958. Thrush predation on the snail Cepaea hortensis. Journal of Animal Ecology, 27(1): 47-57.

Haverschmidt, F. 1968. Birds of Surinam. Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh. 579 p.

Henty, C.J. 1986. Development of snail-smashing by Song Thrushes. British Birds, 79: 277-281.

Lefebvre, L., Nicolakakis, N. and Boire, D. 2002. Tools and brains in birds. Behaviour, 139: 939-973.

Richards, A.J. 1977. Predation of snails by migrant Song Thrushes and Redwings. Bird Study, 24(1): 53-54.

Robinson, D.G., Fields, A. and Zimmerman, F.J. 2004. The Terrestrial Malacofauna of Trinidad and Tobago. USDA/ APHIS PPQ report. 20 p.

Sandoval, L., Biamonte, E. and Solano-Ugalde, A. 2008. Previously unknown food items in the diet of six Neotropical bird species. Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 120(1): 214-217.

Shachak, M., Safriel, U.N. and Hunum, R. 1981. An exceptional event of predation on desert snails by migratory thrushes in the Negev Desert, Israel. Ecology, 62(6): 1441-1449.

Skutch, A.F. 1971. Life history of the Broad-billed Motmot with notes on the Rufous Motmot. Wilson Bulletin, 83(1): 74- 94.

Woinarski, J.C.W., Fisher, A., Brennan, K., Morris, I., Willan, R.C. and Chatto, R. 1998. The Chestnut Rail, Eulabeornis castaneoventris on the Wessel and English Company Islands: Notes on unusual habitat and use of anvils. Emu, 98(1): 74-78.


  • There are currently no refbacks.