You can add birds, and their eggs, to the prey that are falling victim to non-native Burmese pythons snaking through Everglades National Park, according to a study by Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service staff.
Necropsies performed on captured pythons provided evidence that the snakes have eaten at least 25 different species of birds found in the Everglades, according to a Smithsonian report.
"This finding is significant because it suggests that the Burmese python is not simply a sit-and-wait predator, but rather is opportunistic enough to find the nests of birds,” said Carla Dove, ornithologist at the Smithsonian’s Feather Identification Lab in the National Museum of Natural History and lead author of the study. “Although the sample size is small, these findings suggest that the snakes have the potential to negatively affect the breeding success of native birds.”
Earlier this year another team of scientists reported that the pythons were behind a "precipitous decline" in small mammal populations in the park.
The massive snakes, which have been known to kill even alligators in the Everglades, are behind a "nearly complete disappearance of raccoons, rabbits, and opossums" in the 1.5-million-park, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the Smithsonian study, scientists reported that one 8-and-a-half-foot long python "regurgitated 10 whole guineafowl eggs soon after it was captured."
“Our observations confirm that invasive Burmese pythons consume not only adult birds but also eggs, revealing a previously unrecognized risk from this introduced predator to nesting birds,” said Ms. Dove. “How frequently they are predating on bird eggs is hard to know.”