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Friday, June 6, 2014

LBBGs with Chin Holes Trapping Tongues

Over the years I've seen a small number of LBBGs which have their tongues protruding from their chins. The theory is that the gulls have caught some sharp food, which when being swallowed pierces a hole in the bird's chin. I guess the bird then sticks its tongue in the hole as it must be an irritation...then the tongue gets stuck through the hole and can't be withdrawn. The birds do appear to survive and continue to breed...but the tongue is then compromised and movement severely restricted.
We recently caught such a gull on Burhou, Alderney. It was relatively easy to ease the tongue back and get it clear of the hole...but of course we do not know if it will poke it through the hole again.
Interestingly, I've never seen a Herring Gull or Great Black-backed Gull with this condition. 
LBBG With tongue protruding from chin - then the hole when tongue eased back in to mouth (c) PKV

3 comments:

  1. Dear paul:
    Really interesting catch..... Was ringed this "Colombian Neck-tie" gull?.
    I have seen several mich. and fuscus with this C.N. And I have one GBBG in my blog.
    http://gaviotasyanillas.blogspot.com.es/2014/04/blanco-lah1.html
    All the best
    Antonio

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  2. Thanks Antonio - that's three gull species then so far. I wonder how many other birds encounter this problem?!

    Best Wishes

    Paul

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  3. Dear Paul,

    I am currently running a research project investigating the prevalence and causes of this condition which is a called a sublingual oral fistula. Details of the research project can be found at www.birmingham.ac.uk/oral-fistula. At that site you will find information about the project and a downloadable reporting form which I would love you to complete about the bird pictured and return it to me at J.Reynolds.2@bham.ac.uk.

    All the best,
    Jim Reynolds

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