(ORDO NEWS) — It’s amazing how many bird families have learned to feign injury. Cunning and ingenuity can save you from predators, but how did animals learn this? The noisy plover (Charadrius vociferus) can mimic a broken wing
Many animals on the planet have acting abilities, but birds are certainly in the lead. Some of them have learned to pretend to be injured in order to distract and deceive predators. The goal in this case is to take the villains away from the family nest.
So, German and American ornithologists managed to find out that such a strategy is common among almost 300 species of birds. The most common trick is a broken wing. Such “adaptation” has repeatedly and independently arose in completely different families.
Why do birds pretend to be hurt
A team led by Clinton Francis of the Institute of Ornithology Max Planck Society analyzed the literature available to them for any mention of specific bird behavior.
They interviewed fellow ornithologists and experienced bird watchers. So, in total, scientists managed to find about 225 species of deceitful birds only in scientific articles, the survey added another 60 species.
The authors found that birds from those species where only one parent is engaged in incubation pretend to be injured more often.
Those birds that have a tendency to attack predators in a group are also most likely to use “acting” tactics. Also, such behavior is often demonstrated by species that feed a large number of broods per year.
The study shows that the tendency to pretend is more common than previously thought. Clinton Francis suggests that it arose in birds, firstly, independently of each other, and secondly, due to the high risk of nest destruction by daytime predators.
Ornithologists have reported that nesting birds in hollows use a difficult method to protect housing in general. On top of it, they place light feathers, which for relatives may seem like the remnants of the struggle for life with a predator. This will keep any potential invader away.
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