Great reading your very interesting note.
It reminds me of the Click Beetle (and perhaps a few other beetles whose
common names I cannot recollect) but which have been seen indulging in such
acts. I have on a few occasions also experienced Calotes lizards indulge in
feigning death, lying motionless on their backs until getting a secret
all-clear signal to scoot.
Feigning injury is a behavioural response noticed in several birds, mostly
ground birds (plovers, larks, even certain quail, francolin and nightjar)
and can include actually lying motionless or dragging wings (broken-wing
display), often until almost stepped upon. I have typically observed such
when these species are nesting and it is widely believed this behavioural
response is a defence strategy of sorts, to lure the intruder towards itself
and (which is often us humans) away from a certain specific site that could
be the nest, containing eggs or young birds. It has also been noticed that
certain birds may indulge in this behaviour specificall to reveal some
conspicuous colour or pattern in the plumage -- on wings or tail -- and the
same might hold true for several plovers, nightjars etc.
However, what you noticed re the Yellow-eyed Babbler in hand is something
that I was once able to observe, way back in the 1980s, in teh then grassy
Charkop flats where this species was quite widespread. Though I had not been
able to hold a bird in hand and observe what you have, nonetheless when
trying to locate a nest i suddenly remember seeing this YE Babbler dropping,
almost as if losing its balance and falling off the reed-top. And stunned, I
had tried to do what you did -- get hold of the bird -- but it took off and
startled me completely.
Also, certain birds have been observed to lie flat on their backs when in
the nest. I remember one observer (actually a birding friend in
the USA) telling me how he had seen some hawk species go flat on its back
when a couple of them observers went to check its nest.
It all seems so weird that birds, of all creatures, despite the ready
availability of flight at their disposal, must indulge in such behaviour,
and the fact that this is more often noticed during the mating season or
when threatend by something that the power of flight itself might not hold
very good against, obviously indicates such form of deception helps mislead,
confuse and escape.
Once again, a great observation.
Cheers -- Sunjoy Monga
On 04 Apr 2007 08:20:37 -0700, pritesh nandvikar <n_pritesh@...
> Hello birders, I am a new member. I finished my masters in zoology
> (animal physiology) last year & presently working as a lecturer at kirti
> college, dadar.
> I wanted to share very uncommon behavior i.e. "feign" as I could recently
> observed it with yellow-eyed babbler.
> It begins with a morning survey at artist village, CBD with my colleague
> nikhil bhopale on 1st April.
> We spot the bird i.e. yellow eyed babbler but as I tried to take a picture
> it fly away on next branch at around 10 feet away. I took some pictures then
> slowly I moved towards the bird. It was good that I could manage to go less
> than 5 feet closer to the bird.
> But I was shocked when I realized I had to turn on a macro mode of my
> camera. I never had an experience to shoot a bird on a macro mode.
> We were so close to the bird & it was continuously looking at us but was
> not trying to fly away. Then I said nikhil to grab it, and nikhil moved his
> hand towards the bird but bird was absolutely resolute. I realized his nail
> has been trapped in a branch. But we managed to rescue the bird properly.
> And the real story begins when he was in the hand. Very first he tried to
> escape but suddenly he opened his mouth, he stretched his legs & closed his
> eyes & felt like he is dead. Nikhil slowly started to open his hand, as he
> opened his hand bird suddenly woke up & tried to fly. We could observe the
> same 3-4 times. We took some close up shots including bird seems to be dead
> in open hand.
> Addition to stunning could be when we noticed another unpredictable
> Actually when he was in hands he felt down on ground many times but even
> if he was free to fly away at that time he didn't. We grabbed it again & it
> happened many time so we thought probably the bird might be facing some
> problem in taking a flight. So we decided to release it into a dense bush &
> as we released it, amazingly he took a long flight around 10-15 feet high.
> It was great to observe this kind of uncommon behavior & fascinating to
> see the specific record of the same in Salim Ali book too. The fact
> motivated me a lot that in almost 18th century this kind of specific &
> uncommon behavior had been noticed & recorded.
> I am novice in this field & I wanted to explore the vast world of birds &
> their behavior so I am happy to share these moments with you all.
> I wanted to know if you have any additional information about the same or
> any other behavior we can observe in birds. Also in which birds we can
> observe the same behavior?
> happy birding
> Pritesh Nandvikar
> Lecturer, Kirti College, Dadar
> Department Of Zoology.
> Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
> in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]