PRAIRIE DOG AND STARLING STAND-OFF

This starling and prairie dog will not back down an inch as they have a fearsome stand-off over who gets to eat a nut. The cute rodent and the adult bird locked horns at a US zoo earlier this month to go to face to face to see who would stare the other out and grab the food. Despite the dog picking up the nut moments before, ready to chew down on his tasty find for lunch, the starling flew in to challenge him. And it was the feathered thief who won the battle as it simply pecked the nut out of the hands of the white tailed dog and flew off to target its next meal. Photographer Scott Spaeth,42, grabbed the fascinating stand-off at St Louis Zoo, Missouri, and said it was commonplace for the starlings to wait for their furry friends to find food and then steal it from them. He said: "The two of them were facing off to see who got the prairie dog's lunch. "As so often in life the cunning one won and the starling got the prize. Not that the prairie dog seemed to care much, there was plenty more food laying around everywhere. "The prairie dogs eat a variety of food pellets and fresh vegetables, and they seem to know that there's no threat of shortage. "So when the starlings, who are not indigenous to North America, come and take the food right out of the prairie dog's paws, the reaction is to simply pick up another piece of food and continue eating." Scott explained the birds in the vicinity of the zoo have such power over the smaller animals around them, they always win the fights over food. He said: "What I find interesting about the starlings is they will not pick up the food from the ground. "If a prairie dog picks up a new piece of food too close to the starling that just stole from him, the starling will drop the stolen food to go after the prairie dog again. "It's just an incredible sight, and I've never seen anything like it elsewhere, outside of humans that is.

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