Journal of Ethology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 361–365 | Cite as

Wing-flashing in Northern mockingbirds: anti-predator defense?

  • André A. DhondtEmail author
  • Kaylan M. Kemink


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.


Buphagidae Mimidae Mimus polyglottos Defense Review 



We thank Irby Lovette, S.E. Hayslette and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of OrnithologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.PoughkeepsieUSA

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