It’s a little known fact that praying mantises have been known to dine on small birds. This is, of course, very unusual, as the food chain generally dictates that birds eat insects, and insects eat smaller or other defenseless insects. But nature is so diverse that this should not come as a surprise.
While that is interesting enough, what we at ZRS find especially interesting is the part of the bird the mantises are capturing them for. They are looking to consume the delectable, soft tenderness of the bird’s brain.
The following photo, taken by Tom Vaughan, a photographer then living in Colorado’s Mancos Valley, is a graphic illustration of a mantis, tucking into the skull of a humming bird, while acrobatically dangling from a feeder.
Mr. Vaughan comments:
Talk about cognitive dissonance. I always thought of mantises as wonderful things to have in your garden to get rid of bugs, but it turns out they sometimes go for larger prey, too.
It turns out that mantises have been known to hunt larger game, like warblers, sunbirds, honeyeaters, flycatchers, vireos and European robins.
For more on this amazing creature, including its unique stereoptic (3D) vision used to hunt, among other things, check out the NY Times article at: Birds Beware: The Praying Mantis Want your Brain (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/science/praying-mantis-eating-birds.html)
I wonder where I can get my hands on a giant praying mantis costume in time for Halloween. Hmmm. Human size praying mantises. Now THAT is a truly horrifying prospect.