Brant Eating Banana
At the end of a half-morning’s birding I stopped at the south end of the Cross Bay Bridge, just north of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, New York. It is a spot known for nearly tame Pale-bellied Brant* and roosting gulls, and once in a while something really good appears. I figured I would pull into the parking lot, scan the bay, and then be on my way. But instead I immediately noticed a Brant messing with a long yellow object on the shore so I put my binoculars up and realized that it was eating a banana!
Brant wintering in New York tend to subsist on a diet of eelgrass and sea lettuce. (Though they seem to be learning from other geese and often feed on plain old grass like a Canada Goose.) So far as I know from my cursory Google search they have never been documented eating bananas. After all, where and how would a Brant even come into contact with the tropical fruit? But first one and then a second Brant seemed to have no problem figuring out how to eat it, even managing to peel it back further to get at the sweet fruit protected by the peel.
The identity of the goose is not in question, of course, though I am not entirely sure that the fruit is in fact a banana. It seemed big so I thought it might be a plantain, though the bright yellow hue makes me pretty certain that it is a banana. Either way, has anyone else out there ever seen a Brant eating any fruit of the genus Musa?
Of course, other birds commonly eat bananas and plantains, but they are birds that live in the tropics, where such fruit is often used on bird feeders. Want to see that? Check out this post!
*The Brant that winter on the east coast of North America are called Atlantic Brant by some and Pale-bellied Brant by others to distinguish them from the European and Pacific subspecies.