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Faking your own death in the bird world


chrisjpainter
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Some unusual research going on here. It suggests some birds use collections of specifically loose, white feathers to simulate a predator attack to stop other birds stealing nest sites.

Birds fake their own death to protect their nests | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk)

The team found nests that were being used by the builders, but had loose down feathers collected in them. They weren't bound up in the nest matrix, so were otherwise useless, but still retained.

Scientists tested motives behind this with different coloured feathers and just white squares (to rule out it being just colour related). Nest squatters took much longer to move in with collected loose white feathers than anything else. In a third of cases, they refused to go in at all. The theory being that collected white feathers look like down feathers plucked after a bird murder.

The species involved in there test were cavity nesters: Blue tits, tree swallows and pied flycatchers.

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21 minutes ago, Rookandrabbit said:

Fascinating I always thought it was for insulation just shows how intelligent animals can be, thanks for sharing,

I think it depends how they're being used. If they're woven into the nest, then they will be insulating as air is trapped and warmed, but crucially retained. But if the feathers are loose, then the trapped air is all too easily replaced by cold air, so they have no insulating properties, so are essentially just taking up nest space - or providing homes for fungal spores or parasites, neither of which would be good for a nest. Most nest builders are fastidious about cleanliness, so the scientists were looking for an explanation as to why some birds kept loose and specifically white feathers. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 19/11/2021 at 10:54, chrisjpainter said:

Some unusual research going on here. It suggests some birds use collections of specifically loose, white feathers to simulate a predator attack to stop other birds stealing nest sites.

Birds fake their own death to protect their nests | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk)

The team found nests that were being used by the builders, but had loose down feathers collected in them. They weren't bound up in the nest matrix, so were otherwise useless, but still retained.

Scientists tested motives behind this with different coloured feathers and just white squares (to rule out it being just colour related). Nest squatters took much longer to move in with collected loose white feathers than anything else. In a third of cases, they refused to go in at all. The theory being that collected white feathers look like down feathers plucked after a bird murder.

The species involved in there test were cavity nesters: Blue tits, tree swallows and pied flycatchers.

Would this not just attract predators, iam just a simple country boy not a scientist 

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