Thursday, January 16, 2014

[Ichthyology / Behaviour • 2014] First Observation of African Tigerfish Hydrocynus vittatus Predating on Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in flight

Figure 1. Avivorous behavioural strategies adopted by
Hydrocynus vittatus in the Schroda Dam man-made lake.
(a) Flight path of the prey Hirundo rustica, (b) surface pursuit strategy of H. vittatus to overcome surface image shift due to light refraction (angle θ) and (c) direct aerial strikes by adult H. vittatus that compensate for the image shift
(not drawn to scale).  DOI:

A population of African tigerfish Hydrocynus vittatus from the Schroda Dam, actively prey on barn swallows Hirundo rustica in flight. This behaviour was discovered during a radio telemetry study and documented using a motion picture video camera. These results show that an avivorous diet is a part of the feeding biology of H. vittatus, and may occur in other populations.

Keywords: avivorous behaviour; feeding behaviour; freshwater fish; predation; South Africa

 An African tigerfish Hydrocynus vittatus caught on the Lower Zambezi River.
photo: Les Gibbon | doi:

G. C. O'Brien, F. Jacobs, S. W. Evans, N. J. Smit. 2014. First Observation of African Tigerfish Hydrocynus vittatus Predating on Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in flight. Journal of Fish Biology. 84(1), 263–266. DOI:

Video: Fish leaps to catch birds on the wing 
Watch: First Video of Fish Leaping Into Air to Prey on Birds