Drongos are known as the greatest trickster of Kalahari Desert. These fork-tailed African birds with black or dark grey plumage give out alarm calls to meerkats, that of their own kind and other species to warn them about dangerous predators.
They usually perch on tree limbs which is a good position to spot raptors and meerkats rely on them like loyal dogs and sentinels. Here’s the catch though, sometimes these alarm calls are false and drongos use this trick to their advantage–to steal food from the meerkats. How clever!
Apparently, drongos can mimic a total of 51 different alarm calls. These birds simply use deception and vocal mimicry to outwit others.
Watch how one drongo pulled it off!
The video shows how this African bird amusingly and effortlessly outsmarted a group of meerkats. As if one victory wasn’t enough, the drongo did it once again leaving the meerkats falling for the same trap and defeated by one clever bird the second time around.
Drongos are believed to acquire these variety of alarm calls by learning based on Tom Flower’s study. The evolutionary biologist at South Africa’s University of Cape Town conducted the study of drongos’ alarm calls. He has trained individual drongo birds and observed how they go about their usual tasks including how they behave around other species.
“Meerkats react the same way to a drongo’s alarm call as they do to the alarm call of a member of their own species,” Flower said.
“It’s still incredible,” he added, “that some animals, like the drongos, apparently accomplish complex behaviors using simple mechanisms such as associative learning or perhaps an understanding of cause and effect.”
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