Bird mimicry lets hustlers keep cheating

Drongos borrow other species’ warning sounds and freshen up their fraud

By Susan Milius, 17:55 PM April 30, 2014

Real-life masters of the art of false alarms don’t keep crying wolf. Shrieking multiple fake danger signals lets a bird keep its scams going.

When food gets scarce, African birds called fork-tailed drongos (Dicrurus adsimilis) watch for a meerkat or other forager to find desirable prey such as a plump grub. The drongo calls out an alarm as if a predator were approaching. The forager often drops its prize and dashes for cover. Then the drongo swoops in and steals lunch.

If drongos fake an alarm ...

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