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Thread subject: Feigning death to escape death
Name Date Message
terryo 07/02/07 07:17 pm I know that several species of the animal kingdon feign death to either eventually escape their prey or to try and disinterest their prey. I was having lunch in our company parking lot under a tree today where I park every workday (yeah, most of us eat in our cars for some reason). I heard a noise and right outside my car a blackish looking bird fell from the sky or the tree I was under and landed on the pavement, twitching for a couple of seconds. After 4-5 seconds, its legs went stiff and it sure looked dead to me. I immediately thought another diseased bird or maybe it got into a mid-air fight w/another bird. Sure enough about 15-20 seconds after it became stiff and motionless another black bird landed and hopped over to it and looked at it for about 5 seconds then flew off. Another 10-15 seconds after the other bird departed the dead bird stood up, shook itself, and flew away. Maybe it was "stunned" who knows, amazing how you can find excitement even in your companys' parking lot.
Nancy L 07/02/07 08:04 pm Yeah, it's always great to watch a little nature!!
Madeline 07/02/07 11:26 pm Nothing like a bit of entertainment with your lunch terryo....LOL

It sounds more like the bird was stunned, then feigning death. As we've seen in the pictures from Celestes banding trip, and our own Uno and Dos's nest, how the chicks lay low when threatened by intruders, be it bird or human.
martyc35 07/03/07 12:45 am Terryo: Once, a long time ago, my cat caught a hummingbird, which went totally limp. I took it away from the cat as gently as possible and stood on the front porch, with the tiny bird lying on my outstretched palm looking dead to the world. After a minute or so, it cocked its head, looked at me with one eye, and took off, chittering and chattering, as if to tell its partner, "You won't believe what just happened to me!." I was so glad it was alive and had only been playing dead.
And I have seen killdeer do that strange act of pretending to have a broken wing or going lame when anyone comes near their nests. As soon as the coast is clear, they are just fine again. Martyc
RonS 07/03/07 08:32 am Marty,
I believe the lame, broken-wing ploy is used by an adult to lure a predator away from a nest of eggs or chicks. Once the threat is safely away from the nest, the adult "recovers" and makes its escape.
martyc35 07/03/07 09:59 am Yes, Ron, that's what the killdeer observers say.
Melanie 07/03/07 02:29 pm There are several bird species that do the broken wing fake out routine - plovers are another, along with doves and even burrowing owls. That surprised me.
Marie 07/03/07 05:26 pm yes Ron, a killdeer does exactly that.......;-)

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Sat Feb 17, 2007