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Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(3): 192–195. SHORT-COMMUNIC ARA TICLE TION September 2018 Some Venezuelan wild bird species that box against their own reflections 1,2 Carlos Verea Universidad Central de Venezuela, Facultad de Agronomía, Instituto de Zoología Agrícola, Apartado 4579, Maracay 2101–A, estado Aragua, Venezuela. Corresponding author: email@example.com Received on 02 July 2018. Accepted on 22 October 2018. ABSTRACT: Data about shadow boxing behavior in Neotropical wild birds is almost absent. A total of 16 novel wild bird species were found performing shadow boxing behavior in northern Venezuela. Families Trochilidae, Picidae, Tyrannidae, Corvidae, Turdidae, Mimidae, Thraupidae, Emberizidae, and Paru lidae were represented, with Trochilidae and Tyrannidae reported for the first time. Reflecting surfaces were car components, home windows, glass sliding doors, and a stainless steel pot. As expected, date of records and breeding season information matched for all species. Nonetheless, the White-vented Plumeleteer Chalybura buffonii behavior does not appear to be related to its breeding condition. Instead, this species shadow box to defend a food source. While most birds shadow box with their beak, wings and feet, Trochilidae species developed aerial displays, and beat their reflections with the breast and beak. Two records involved female individuals. Recorded information noticeably improves the previous knowledge of avian shadow boxing behavior in Venezuela and the Neotropical region. KEY-WORDS: agonistic behavior, avian behavior, bird aggressions, mirror reflections, shadow boxing. Avian “shadow boxing” has been described as a behavior While the “shadow boxing” term was coined by where birds attack, fight, call, peck, display or fly against Dickey (1916), its formal reports started with Allen their own reflections on shiny surfaces, such as mirrors (1879) as an “odd behavior” observed in a Robin Turdus and windows, as well as chrome bumpers or polished migratorius and an American Yellow Warbler Setophaga surfaces of vehicles, in an attempt to defend their territory aestiva from North America. Recent data about wild bird against a supposed intruder (Roerig 2013, Mayntz 2018). species that are known to attack themselves as reflections Given that most organisms respond to mirror reflections involve 143 bird species worldwide (Roerig 2013). as if their image represented another individual (Gallup- Nonetheless, that inventory only contains an isolated Jr. 1968), territorial birds assume it is a rival bird and report for the Neotropical region, corresponding to the attack the reflection to drive it away, particularly during Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani (Davis 1940). In breeding season when birds competitive drive is highest Venezuela, the Great Thrush Turdus fuscater is the only (Temby 2003, Mayntz 2018). In response to the supposed species known to shadow box (Verea et al. 2016). In this intruder, birds fly against the reflection, peck at it, rake context, the current paper aims to improve the almost it with their talons, scratch it with their nails, or beat it absent information about this topic in Venezuela and the with their wings. While these actions apparently do not Neotropical region. cause severe injuries, they can lead to exhaustion, and Between December 2014 and January 2018 visual make the bird more vulnerable to diseases, malnutrition, observations concerning shadow boxing behavior in wild predators, and even cause its death. After a complete day bird species were randomly recorded. All data came from of shadow boxing, a Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris two close localities in Cordillera de la Costa mountains, was found dead the next morning in Europe (Gough southeast suburbs of Caracas, El Hatillo County, 1936). The degree of aggression and duration of the Miranda state, northern Venezuela: Los Naranjos farm o o attacks vary for each bird species and even for individual (10 26'14''N; 66 47'27''W), a disturbed area about 900 o o birds, but usually disappear after the breeding season has m a.s.l.; and El Volcán area (10 25'30''N; 66 51'04''W), ended (Mayntz 2018). Although this behavior is expected a relic cloud forest about 1320 m a.s.l. For each case, a from males, females are occasionally involved (Robertson reflecting surface was recor ded. Due to strong relation 1935, Reed 1938, Sutton 1947), sometimes in company between shadow boxing behavior and breeding season, of their males (Roerig 2013). the date of records (month) were compared with the Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(3): 2018 Boxing behavior in Venezuelan birds Verea A C Figure 1. After noticing its reflection (A), a Rusty-margined Flycatcher Myiozetetes cayanensis pecks at it, scratches it with its nails (B) and beats it with its wings (C). Photo author: C. Verea. flew up to the branch tree where their nest was built. Also, a single female of the Sooty-capped Hermit Phaethornis augusti with an active nest was recorded. Although this hermit does not show sexual dichromatism/dimorphism, it is a communal display (lek) bird. Thus, the entire reproduction effort rests on the female (Verea 2016). Female taking part of shadow boxing events represents only 13% of total species (Roerig 2013). As expected, date of records and breeding season information matched in all species (Table 1). Additionally, Sooty-capped Hermit, Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus, Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Great Figure 2. A Tropical Parula Setophaga pitiayumi rests on a car Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus, Spectacled Thrush Turdus rear view mirror while shadow boxing in northern Venezuela. nudigenis, Pale-vented Thrush Turdus leucomelas, and Photo author: E. Mayor. Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor had nests in the area. Likewise, the Burnished-buff Tanager Tangara cayana, breeding periods of the bird species in Cordillera de la Costa bio-region based on Schäfer & Phelps (1954), Spectacled Thrush, Pale-vented Thrush, B lack-striped Verea et al. (2009, 2016) and Verea (2016). Additionally, Sparrow Arremonops conirostris, Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina and the Tropical Parula Setophaga information associated to breeding behavior, such as nest pitiayumi were usually observed carrying food for presence, birds carrying nest material and/or food for fledglings and/or materials for nest construction at the fledglings were recor ded as evidence of breeding activity. When possible (e.g., dichromatic species) the bird sex was same period of boxing. Nonetheless, the White-vented reported. Typical bird attack elements (e.g., beak, wings, Plumeleteer Chalybura buffonii behavior does not seem related to its breeding season. Instead, this species was feet, others) were also recorded. supposedly shadow boxing to defend a food source. A A total of 16 novel wild bird species were found hummingbird food dispenser was daily defended for the performing shadow boxing behavior (Table 1; Figs. 1 & 2). Families Trochilidae, Picidae, Tyrannidae, Corvidae, mentioned hummingbird. All conspecific hummingbir ds Turdidae, Mimidae, Thraupidae, Emberizidae, and (Trochilidae) or others (e.g., Bananaquit Coereba flaveola) were toughly repelled when they tried to approach the Parulidae were represented. According the information food dispenser. From time to time, the White-vented harbored by Roerig (2013), Trochilidae and Tyrannidae Plumeleteer flew in front of a nearb y glass sliding door are reported for the first time. In most cases (12) the reflecting surfaces were ve hicle components (windows, and attacked its own reflection as well. On the other hand, windscreens, rear view mirrors, and/or polished surfaces); a few records of shadow boxing were recorded outside the breeding season (Table 1), corresponding to the Rusty- four records were associated to home windows; other marginated Flycatcher (October–November), Green Jay four records were associated to a glass sliding door; and Cyanocorax yncas (November), and the Burnished-buff a curious case involved a stainless steel pot. With the exception of the latter, all mentioned reflecting surfaces Tanager (December), despite elsewhere shadow boxing have been typically used by birds for shadow boxing behavior is known to occur at any time of the year (Temby 2003, Roerig 2013). (Roerig 2013). In all cases, one individual was involved, While most birds shadow box aggressively with their but the Rusty-margined Flycatcher Myiozetetes cayanensis beak, wings and feet, Trochilidae species developed aerial eventually included two, undoubtedly male and female. After shadow boxing, both Rusty-margined Flycatchers displays, and beat their reflections with t he breast and Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(3): 2018 Boxing behavior in Venezuelan birds Verea Table 1. Bird species performing shadow boxing behavior in Venezuela. Data included previous report of the Great Thrush, Mérida region, Andean mountains of Venezuela (Verea et al. 2016). Breeding season data for Cordillera de la Costa bio-region according to Schäfer & Phelps (1954), Verea et al. (2009, 2016) and Verea (2016). Taxonomy sequence and nomenclature follow Remsen-Jr. et al. (2018). Month(s) of Family/Species Reflecting surface Breeding season record(s) Trochilidae Sooty-capped Hermit () Glass sliding doors. January–June December–July Phaethornis augusti White-vented Plumeleteer () Glass sliding doors. January–March Throughout the Chalybura buffonii year Picidae Red-crowned Woodpecker () Car components: windows, March November–July Melanerpes rubricapillus windscreens, and polished surfaces. Tyrannidae Social Flycatcher Car components: windows, February–March January–August Myiozetetes similis windscreens, rear view mirrors, and polished surfaces; home windows. Rusty-margined Flycatcher Car components: windows, February–March; March–July Myiozetetes cayanensis windscreens, rear view mirrors, May–June; and polished surfaces; home October– windows and glass sliding doors. November Great Kiskadee Car components: windows, April–May March–June Pitangus sulphuratus windscreens, rear view mirrors, and polished surfaces. Corvidae Green Jay Home windows. June; November April–June Cyanocorax yncas Turdidae Great Thrush () Car components: windows, August February–October Turdus fuscater windscreens, and rear view mirrors. Spectacled Thrush Car components: windows and April–JulyFebruary–August Turdus nudigenis windscreens. Pale-vented Thrush Car components: windows and May–July Throughout the Turdus leucomelas windscreens. year Mimidae Tropical Mockingbird Car components: windows, March Throughout the Mimus gilvus windscreens, rear view mirrors, year and polished surfaces; home windows. Thraupidae Burnished-buff Tanager Car components: windows and February–March; March–May Tangara cayana rear view mirrors; glass sliding December doors. Black-faced Grassquit () Stainless steel pot. March–April May–September Tiaris bicolor Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(3): 2018 Boxing behavior in Venezuelan birds Verea Month(s) of Family/Species Reflecting surface Breeding season record(s) Blue-black Grassquit () Car components: rear view June April–October Volatinia jacarina mirrors. Emberizidae Black-striped Sparrow Car components: windows, and May–June May Arremonops conirostris rear view mirrors. Parulidae Tropical Parula Car components: rear view June–JulyMarch–August Setophaga pitiayumi mirrors. Three-striped War bler Car components: rear view June March–June Basileuterus tristriatus mirrors. Gallup-Jr. G.G. 1968. Mirror-image stimulation. Psychological Bulletin beak. The White-vented P lumeleteer was flying steadily 70: 782–793. in front of its reflected image, and suddenly attacked it Gough K. 1936. Starling and reflec tion. Irish Naturalists' Journal 6: 75. with a single breast and/or beak stroke. After a couple Mayntz M. 2018. Stop birds attacking windows. http://www. times, the hummingbird gave up and returned to its thespruce.com/stop-birds-attacking-windows-386449 (Access on 18 June 2018). original spot. This strategy was observed two/three times a Reed W.R. 1938. A female Cardinal fights her reflection. Migrant 9: day. The Sooty-capped Hermit was less aggressive. When 17–18. this species confronted its image, it moved up-and-down, Remsen-Jr. J.V., Areta J.I., Cadena C.D., Claramunt S., Jaramillo A., and/or side to side. Simultaneously, the hummingbird Pacheco J.F., Robbins M.B., Stiles F.G., Stotz D.F. & Zimmer K.J. uttered a couple “chip” warning notes. Then, it suddenly 2018. A classification of the bird species of South America. http:// www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.htm (Access on moved forward and touched the glass with its beak. After 18 June 2018). the contact, it moved backward and repeated the frontal Robertson J.M. 1935. Bush-tits “shadow-boxing”. Condor 37: 257– attack one more time. Finally, it flew away. Recorded information increases the data about Roerig J. 2013. Shadow boxing by birds - a literature study and new data from southern Africa. Ornithological Observations 4: 39–68. wild bird that are known to performing shadow Schäfer E. & Phelps W.H. 1954. Las aves del Parque Nacional “Henri boxing behavior worldwide and noticeably improves its Pittier” (Rancho Grande) y sus funciones ecológicas. Boletín de la knowledge in Venezuela and the Neotropical region. Sociedad Venezolana de Ciencias Naturales 83: 3–167. Sutton G.M. 1947. A female Cardinal and her reflection. Bird Banding 18: 151–154. Temby I. 2003. Flora and fauna notes: problems caused by birds ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS attacking windows. http://www.training.ntwc.org.au/wp-content/ uploads/2016/06/Problems_caused _by_birds_attacking_ I wish to acknowledge Enrique Mayor who kindly windows.pdf (Access on 18 June 2018). provides the Tropical Parula photograph. Verea C. 2016. Nest and nestling development of the Sooty-capped Hermit (Phaethornis augusti) from Venezuela. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 24: 338–343. Verea C., Espósito N. & Lentino M. 2016. Paraulatas de Venezuela. REFERENCES Maracay & Caracas: UCV & Fundación W. H. Phelps Verea C., Solórzano A., Díaz M., Parra L., Araujo M.A., Antón F., Allen J.A. 1879. Odd behavior of a Robin and a Yellow Warbler. Navas O., Ruiz O.J.L. & Fernández-Badillo A. 2009. Registros Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club 4: 178–182. de actividad reproductora y muda en algunas aves del norte de Davis D.E. 1940. Social nesting habits of the Smooth-billed Ani. Auk Venezuela. Ornitología Neotropical 20: 181–201. 57: 179–218. Dickey D.R. 1916. The shadow- boxing of Pipilo. Condor 18: 93–99. Associate Editor: Cristiano S. Azevedo. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 26(3): 2018
Ornithology Research – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2018
Keywords: agonistic behavior; avian behavior; bird aggressions; mirror reflections; shadow boxing
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