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I call it vomit due to the way it is being projected like it but would be something of a solution that immobiles and paralyses the pray. I know that the Fulmar chick uses an orange oil like substance to defend itself and that the pitohui has neurotoxin in its skin and feathers. Granted the pitohui probably gets it toxins from its food but for this bird I would like that to not be the case. So I was wondering if a bird could perhaps project this thick vomit at its pray, the impact pushing the prey to the ground or slowing it down as it slightly solidifies like a puddy. Just for the neurotoxin in the vomit to come in effect. Making the prey even more immobile. Allowing the immune-to-the-vomit bird to carry the pray to its nest where it could use its specialized claws to rip through the vomit puddy and eat at it's leisure. Could this work?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for a substance that works by being toxic, or one with a physical mode of action (e.g., an adhesive sticking the victim to their surroundings)? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Mar 21, 2022 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence A bit of both. $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2022 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ Would the bird want to move the prey and take it to its nest ? $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 21, 2022 at 23:34

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Yes.

Here's the natural progression I can imagine:

  1. Fulmars retain their stomach oil defence into adulthood. This is likely just a mutation, no particular natural selection.
  2. Fulmar birds diversify over time. Some due to some circumstances become birds of prey. Likely starting by disabling another bird and later scavenging the remains. Going after big prey is better than going after fish, although there is more risk involved.
  3. They become reliant on their defence mechanism for hunting. Understanding that "puking on a bird means food" they'll grapple with other birds to insure they can land their puke and secure a kill.
  4. Over time they specialize to spit further, therefore making it easier to down other birds. I can imagine a longer beak, a slit at the tip of the beak and powerful throat muscles. The best tactic is to aim for the wings or eyes to better disable the prey.

I used fulmars as the example but this applies to other birds as well. As far as efficiency goes, I think the oil defence is best. For the following reasons:

  • The oil already exists amongst (nearly) all birds. They have specialized glands on their rear to coat their feathers with when preening. It makes them waterproof. Thus it keeps them insulated and able to fly in rain (owls for example can't fly when wet).
  • It's deadly. In a wicked way, this defence mechanism is pure genius. It prevents the inflicted birds from flying and when they try to wash it off they will drown due to no longer being waterproof.

This isn't saying toxins or hardening slime is bad. This just seamed like the path of least effort nature would take. But you can be more bold with your imagination. By all means, make a bird that glues its prey to death!

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