Shy Blue Tipper
The defensive behaviour of this cart makes it easy to identify. When approached by a perceived threat it immediately places the nose of its basket to the ground and raises its rear wheels to the sky.
It is unclear what it is that deters the potential predator. Is it the undignified position of the Shy Blue Tipper or the sheer boredom of waiting for the cart to do something to trigger the chase instinct? Perhaps the rear wheels are used for some unknown defensive purpose.
Regardless, this docile cart is readily (and safely) approachable and field marks can be examined at close range. Note that distinctive blue basket flap and dangling blue tassels that may play a role in courtship displays. There is some similarity in the pattern of the field mark at the far left of the bar (visible in the photo below) that suggests it may be in the same genus as the Red-banded Silver Spinner. However, more study is required to confirm or refute this hypothesis. The main basket definitely has a similar bright look to it but there are several differences as well.
Identifying the sex of the cart during non-breeding season can be challenging since the males discard their tassels during the winter and only regrow them when entering the spring breeding season. Look for a small black oval near the basket of the cart – it’s unique to the male carts of this species.
Shy Blue Tippers are often solitary and can be found frequenting industrial parks. There is some thought that old discarded tires are a major part of this species’ diet. More observation is needed to confirm the foraging behaviour of this beautiful, shy cart.
A sensitive and delicate cart, the Shy Blue Tipper is a delight to see and appreciate. While some may find its behaviour unexciting there is something zen-like in watching these solitary carts with their baskets pressed to the ground.
This is the twelfth species account of the Vancouver Island Shopping Carts series. Julian Montague at The Stray Shopping Cart Project has developed a method of classifying stray carts that might be of interest to those wanting to learn more about species of carts in their own area. Researchers should also consult Rock, Paper, Lizard and for detailed species accounts of Lower Mainland/Vancouver carts. More photos of carts can be found at Wild Shopping Carts.