The black heron, a jet-black bird found in southern Africa and Madagascar, has devised a devilishly clever way to catch its prey. When hunting for small fish in shallow water, the black heron uses its wings like an umbrella to create a patch of shade beneath it.
Scientists believe that this behavior, known as canopy feeding, helps the birds hunt by making their prey easier to see. In the same way as wearing polarized sunglasses helps fishermen peer past the water’s surface, creating a personal patch of shade may help these birds get a better look at their prey. Shrouding themselves in a cloak of darkness may also prevent the herons' prey from seeing them, experts say.
But that’s not all. Scientists also theorize that the shade created by these birds may attract fish who are looking for a place to hide. While it remains to be seen if one or all of these theories are true, canopy feeding certainly works well for the black heron.