Alligators help protect bird nests – but still snack on chicks

It’s raining food for alligators in the Everglades – those that act as bodyguards for nesting birds get paid in chicks.

It’s not uncommon for one animal to gain protection from a neighbour. In Florida’s Everglades, wading birds like storks and egrets preferentially build their nests where alligators live, because the presence of the big reptiles protects them from nest-raiding racoons and opossums.

Lucas Nell of the University of Florida in Gainesville has now cruised the Everglades at night to see what the alligator bodyguards get out of the deal. Read more in New Scientist.