- Not Exactly Rocket Science
The Bird That Cries Wolf Changes Its Lies
In Aesop’s fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the titular boy repeatedly lies to nearby villagers by shouting that a wolf is attacking his flock. When a wolf actually attacks, the villagers ignore the boy’s now-genuine cries. The moral, as parents tell their children, is: Don’t lie. But it could equally be: If you’re going to lie, mix it up a little. Maybe, cry bear now and then.
In southern Africa, there’s a bird that epitomises this lesson: the fork-tailed drongo. “They’re demonic little birds—black with forked tails, red eyes and a hooked beak,” says Tom Flower from the University of Cape Town. They’re also accomplished impressionists. They make at least 51 different alarm calls, and only six of