1 Tahrcountry Musings: The Tricks of Kalahari Drongos

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Tricks of Kalahari Drongos

I was reading the other day a paper on Kalahari drongos in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The paper dealt with an ingenious ruse used by drongos to scare away competition and steal their food. The research was carried out by Tom Flower, a Cambridge University PhD student. What hooked me is the neat trick used by drongos. They mimic the alarm calls of other species in order to steal food.

Poor Meerkats are at the receiving end of the clever ploy. The drongos make fake alarm calls that mimic other species that meerkats are wary of. The meerkats run for cover in hearing the call. The drongos then swoop in and have a hearty meal. The birds were observed to deliberately change the type of call they make to make them sound authentic.

In the paper the researcher propose a novel hypothesis that false mimicked alarm calls could be used deceptively to scare other species and steal their food.

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