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Some owls hiss like snakes. Yellow warblers steal other birds’ nests. Fieldfares poop on their enemies. To us, these might seem like bad


behaviors. Yet these birds act this way for a reason. T ey might be getting food, defending themselves, or protecting their chicks. Most birds have traits that help them do these things and survive in the wild. A trait is a characteristic that makes


a species unique. Some traits are physical traits. A bird might have sharp claws, for example. Some are behavioral traits. T ese


are actions that a bird learns or inherits. Inherited traits are passed from parent to off spring. A bird is born knowing what to do. Birds use their traits to survive. Let’s see how.


The Tawny Frogmouth A tawny frogmouth stands in a tree. It’s hard to spot. Its brown feathers blend in with the tree’s bark. T is bird is waiting with its mouth


open. Soon, a lizard comes by. It walks right into the bird’s mouth. T e frogmouth’s bill snaps shut. T e bird’s coloring hides it, and its strong bill traps prey.


10 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


The Shrike A shrike sits on a thin branch of a tall tree. It spots a mouse. T e bird dives. It grabs the mouse with its claws. It kills the mouse with its sharp bill. T e bird carries the dead mouse away. It doesn’t eat it, though. Not yet. T e bird finds a thorny bush. It


hangs the mouse on the thorns and flies away. Later, it will return to eat it. Shrikes oſt en kill more prey than


they can eat. T en they store it. On days when they can’t catch live prey, they still have a meal. T is behavior helps the shrike survive.


This shrike stores a lizard, a butterfly, and an insect on a thorny branch.


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