Monday, March 13, 2017

Why Do Male Birds Take on Larger Predators?

Have you ever seen a group of small birds wantonly attack a larger bird?
Whether it’s chickadees, mockingbirds or crows, there’s something awe-inspiring about a bunch of tiny floofs taking on a sharp-taloned owl. This behavior is called mobbing, and it’s typically understood as a cooperative strategy that prey animals use to ward off a would-be predator—the weak rising up against the strong, David-and-Goliath style But that understanding may need reworking, according to a new study published in the Springer journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. It’s not just because nature doesn’t deal in human conventions like underdogs and bullies. By setting up faux owls and seeing how smaller birds reacted, researchers found that these avian gang members may not be exactly the heroes they think. In fact, some of them are probably just trying to get laid.
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