A species of bird called Cinereous mourner (Laniocera hypopyrra) in the Amazon has developed a unique disguise. The baby chicks trick predators by mimicking two poisonous caterpillar species (or mimic Donald Trump’s hair depending on who you ask). Their bright orange coloring closely resembles that of the large, hairy caterpillars. The chicks even behave like the caterpillar while in the nest. Once the bird is able to defend itself, it loses the orange color and becomes rather bland and grey in color as an adult. It is the only known bird known to mimic another species for protection against predators.
The chicks are so convincing that, until now, nobody knew about their mimicry. The chicks look so similar to the caterpillars not just because of their coloring, but their size and uncanny ability to mimic their typical movements and behaviors. They weave and bob their bodies while tucking the parts of their body that do not look like a caterpillar away from sight. Only when the mother signals that they are safe do they stop their act.
The researchers involved in the study believe that the birds have developed this ability due to the low rate of chick survival in the Amazon area, which is only approximately 20 percent. Their disguise helps them survive in the dangerous rainforest because predators avoid eating poisonous animals such as the caterpillars they so closely resemble. It appears to work, too, as they demonstrated a high survival rate compared to other chicks in the region.
However, I still believe there is some human mimicry happening as well.
(Natalie Gilmore & Kevin Clarke)
see the bird moving in a video below:
photo credits: main photo – ttnaturelink.com
2nd & 3rd photo: Santiago David Rivera; below, Wendy Valencia