- Not Exactly Rocket Science
The bird that cries hawk: fork-tailed drongos rob meerkats with false alarms
Late last year, I wrote about a bird called the rocket-tailed drongo and, in response to a comment, I noted the following:
“Drongos are notorious thieves and mimics. In South Africa, I spent a morning with a meerkat researcher, following live meerkats. He said that he had anecdotal evidence that the fork-tailed drongo would sometimes mimic the predator alarm calls of meerkats while they were foraging and then swoop down to nick their unearthed morsels.”
Well that evidence is no longer anecdotal. In a new study published today, Tom Flower from the University of Cambridge has indeed found that fork-trailed drongos can deceive meerkats into scurrying for cover by making false alarm calls. It’s the bird that cries hawk.