Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Snipe mimics cat's head?

Thought I would re-post a crop of this shot. Not only does it show a Hooded Crow with feather de-pigmentation, as mentioned elsewhere, but closer inspection reveals a Common Snipe in a rather contorted position. This behaviour appeared to be in response to the close proximity of the crow and looks as though it is another example of a predator-deterrent signal.

In this case, the Snipe, as a potential prey species, appears to be mimicking the appearance of a Wild Cat head! Unlike the example of the wing-flicking in the Blackbird, which was an example of honest signalling, this type of mimicry is an example of deceptive signalling and could be termed Batesian mimicry (where a harmless mimic models a more dangerous species). Of course, it could be a photographic artifact but the Snipe does appear to have two eyes, a nose and a mouth all facing backwards towards the potential predator - it may be convincing enough to make a proportion of predators think twice about launching an attack...


If you can't see the cat - does this help?

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