Wing-flashing in Northern mockingbirds: anti-predator defense?
Although often described, the function of wing-flashing behavior in Northern mockingbirds remains unknown. One group of hypotheses proposes it is related to foraging, while another non-exclusive set of hypotheses proposes that it is an expression of intra- or interspecific hostility. Based on new observations, and after reviewing the literature, we suggest that intense wing-flashing is performed by breeding adults when confronted with a predator, although cannot exclude any foraging enhancement function. Because similar behavior has been described in many mimid (Mimidae) species, and because oxpeckers (Buphagidae) are the ancestral group to mimids, we propose that wing-flashing in mimids is ancestral, and that the oxpecker’s open-wing display would be a precursor to wing-flashing.
KeywordsBuphagidae Mimidae Mimus polyglottos Defense Review
We thank Irby Lovette, S.E. Hayslette and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments.
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