Wednesday, March 21, 2007

little bird, big brain

"Nutchatches seem to understand chickadee" this just blows me away, but not for the reason that the article was written. Any child of the woods (someone who hangs around outside watching stuff with no agenda, the way children do) knows that interspecies bird communication happens. They warn each other, they fight with each other over food and territory, using not just their body language, but their own species language, and other species learn/know, pretty much what they are saying, the same way an english speaker might say "gracias" at a mexican restaurant. After all, they are sharing the same habitat and the food table.
As kids, we worked hard to mimic the call of a hawk, then we would go into an area with birds feeding, give the call and watch everybody duck for thrills.
Years later, I was amused to see my own children mimic hawks and send the chickens running for cover, and then fall into the grass with peals of laughter over the "village idiot" chickens who would just cringe and hunker down right where they were at, because they were confused about which way to run.
The fact that people are getting paid to play with speakers and recording devices is what blows me away....where do I sign up?? can I be on the team??
The best part of the article is at the very end......

"Also, said Dhondt, who was not part of Templeton's research team, black-capped chickadees have been known to produce false alarm calls, causing other birds to fly away, leaving the cheating chickadees to enjoy a food source by itself."
Yea, chickadees are like that...clever little things.I have also seen chickadees give the "come and get it' food call to lure all the cardinals to the front feeder, then sneak around the other side of the house to the other feeder that is actually fuller.


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