Dedicated to Professor Niko Tinbergen, F.R.S.
Behavioural Interactions between Avian Predators and their Avian Prey: Play Behaviour or Mobbing?
Version of Record online: 26 APR 2010
1985 Blackwell Verlag GmbH
Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie
Volume 67, Issue 1-4, pages 204–214, January-December 1985
How to Cite
Verbeek, N. A. M. (1985), Behavioural Interactions between Avian Predators and their Avian Prey: Play Behaviour or Mobbing?. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 67: 204–214. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.1985.tb01389.x
- Issue online: 26 APR 2010
- Version of Record online: 26 APR 2010
- Received: February 28, 1983; Accepted: January 12, 1984
Abstract and Summary
In this paper I review reports in the literature in which hawks (mainly species of Accipiter) pursued avian prey without apparently trying to capture them (Table 1). In some reports the hawks were in turn chased by the prey as well (Table 2). The species that were pursued in “playful” fashion were either belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon), woodpeckers or corvids. The pursuits have been interpreted in the literature as play behaviour.
A search of the literature showed that many species of woodpeckers and corvids are eaten by accipiters (Table 3). However, the species that are pursued in “playful” fashion are generally those woodpeckers and corvids that are larger than the male or female accipiter pursuing them (Table 4). It is not surprising that the smallest of the accipiters (A. striatus) was involved in most of the pursuits that have been recorded (Tables 1 and 2).
I argue that the hawks were inexperienced, hungry individuals which pursued inappropriately large prey. The prey's behaviour is interpreted as mobbing. They are safe because they can escape by diving into the water (kingfisher), they are larger than the hawk or they outnumber it.