Crow Predation of Whelks

During the study, Zach observed the behaviour of the crows. They would fly over an intertidal zone and look for the largest whelks.

Once they chose and collected their prey, the crows would go to a rocky area, fly upward, and release the whelk. If the whelk split open when it hit the rocks, the crow would remove the inside and feed. If the whelk did not break, the crow would fly down, grab the whelk, fly up, and drop it again. The process was repeated until the whelk broke. Even if it took twenty or thirty drops, the crow persisted with the same whelk, never moving on to new prey. Zach also observed that the crows would fly up above their targeted height, then turn downwards before dropping the whelk. Finally, he found the whelks were most commonly being dropped from about 5.6 m and 4.4 drops per whelk.

Question: Can the tendency of the crows to fly to a height of around 5.6 m be explained in terms of optimal foraging theory?

In this project, we will investigate this question by examining data as well as developiong and analyzing mathematical equations.