Birds cry wolf to scare predators

One of Australia's smallest birds has found a cunning way to protect its nest from predators by crying wolf, or rather hawk, and mimicking the warning calls of other birds.

Researchers from ANU Research School of Biology found that the tiny brown thornbill mimics the hawk warning call of a variety of birds to scare off predators threatening its nest, such as the larger pied currawong.

"It's not superbly accurate mimicry, but it's enough to fool the predator," said Dr Branislav Igic, who carried out the study during his PhD at ANU Research School of Biology.

"A physical attack on a currawong would be no good. They are 40 times the size of a thornbill and will eat adults as well as nestlings.

Read more on the Australian National University website.

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