The Condor/24 (6)/Birds Eating Snails

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Birds Eating Snails. — In connection with the survey of infested areas and subsequent clean-up of the European snail, Helix pisana, at La Jolla, it is interesting to note that two birds have been observed by the writer as feeding on this mollusk.

The infested territory was burned over about three years ago and at that time enormous numbers of snails were killed, a very strong odor of burning flesh being apparent. Immediately thereafter flocks of sea gulls came in and feasted on the roasted snails; but, although outside of the burned area many live snails were in evidence on low bushes and shrubs, no gulls were observed to feed on them.

Another infestation of this snail at La Jolla has now occurred, and while making a survey of the district last week with Mr. A. J. Basinger of the Pest Control Division of the State Department of Agriculture, I noted a male English Sparrow busily engaged in feeding on young live snails clustered on a small dead Monterey cypress tree. At this stage the shells are, of course, soft and easily broken. The English Sparrow has long been regarded as an undesirable immigrant, but it would seem that it has scored a point in its own favor if it is to be regarded as an enemy of this destructive snail. — R. R. McLean, County Horticultural Commissioner, San Diego, July 26, 1922.