The purpose of the spine-tipped tail and oddly shaped femur become apparent when logrunners feed. A feeding bird spreads its tail and rests the spine-like quills against the ground. To expose the soil, the bird rakes a foot through the leaf litter and fallen sticks, throwing the leg to the side, perpendicular to the body. Once the ground is sufficiently cleared to feed, the legs are used alternately to scratch the soil front to back in search of insects, larvae and other invertebrates that form the diet, balancing on one leg while at the same time using the tail as a supporting prop. Pivoting around the tail, logrunners produce distinctive small cleared patches about 8 in (20 cm) in diameter on the forest floor. A foraging bird spends a brief period scratching at the one spot before moving on to another a short distance away. Smaller ground-feeding birds, such as the yellow-throated scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) and eastern whipbird (Psophodes oli-vaceus), may attend foraging logrunners, picking up small invertebrates that are unearthed by the scratching.
Was this article helpful?