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Are birds social with different species?

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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 03:32   #1
Cryper
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Are birds social with different species?

Hi,

I noticed there are some birds that will hang out with birds of another species like a rock pigeon and I think house sparrows. I was wondering what dictates this behavior between birds? Is there some benefit to one another or are birds actually social with one another?
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 12:14   #2
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Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

One of the best examples is co-operative hunting between Harriers (ground attack predator) and Merlins (aerial pursuit predator) - if a bird flies to escape the Harrier, the Merlin gets it; if the bird crouches down to escape the Merlin, the Harrier gets it.

Other times, they're just both attracted by the same food source, that's likely what's happening with the Feral Pigeon / House Sparrow flocks.
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 12:26   #3
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A lot of passerines have similar 'predator alert' calls and strength in numbers cuts across the species barriers - a sole bird of one species can latch onto a group of another.

In the UK Little Egret can follow eg shallow swimming Cormorant to pick up disturbed prey.
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 12:44   #4
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A favourite of mine is Asian Desert Warblers following Wheatears.
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 17:27   #5
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A favourite of mine is Asian Desert Warblers following Wheatears.
And likewise, Whitethroats and (if you're lucky!) Dartford Warblers following Stonechats
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 19:24   #6
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A lot of passerines have similar 'predator alert' calls and strength in numbers cuts across the species barriers - a sole bird of one species can latch onto a group of another.
Classic US examples are the mixed “winter“ flocks of small insectivores. Ones that I’ve encountered recently at my local patch in Oregon have variously consisted of up to 6 species: Black-capped Chickadees (always, as the core), Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Bewick’s Wrens, Downy Woodpeckers.
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 20:59   #7
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Classic US examples are the mixed “winter“ flocks of small insectivores. Ones that I’ve encountered recently at my local patch in Oregon have variously consisted of up to 6 species: Black-capped Chickadees (always, as the core), Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Bewick’s Wrens, Downy Woodpeckers.
Similarly, it's common to see large mixed flocks of ground-feeding birds - mostly taking seeds but the group size helps catch insects, as well as provide cooperative defense. On lawns in the Northeastern US, especially in fall, you'll have large groups of grackles mixing freely with blackbirds, often joined by starlings, rubbing elbows with robins (T. migratorius) , plus various sparrows will follow along and dart in when one of the larger birds scares up a small insect.

Beyond mere species, birds will engage in similar opportunistic feeding behavior with large herbivores, and also humans, farm machinery, and fishing boats. It's not so easy to define "being social"...
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 03:41   #8
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Similarly, it's common to see large mixed flocks of ground-feeding birds - mostly taking seeds but the group size helps catch insects, as well as provide cooperative defense. On lawns in the Northeastern US, especially in fall, you'll have large groups of grackles mixing freely with blackbirds, often joined by starlings, rubbing elbows with robins (T. migratorius) , plus various sparrows will follow along and dart in when one of the larger birds scares up a small insect.

Beyond mere species, birds will engage in similar opportunistic feeding behavior with large herbivores, and also humans, farm machinery, and fishing boats. It's not so easy to define "being social"...
I know when certain animals are happy because they can express it like dogs or chimpanzees, but couldn't figure out if birds displayed their emotions with one another, it seems like all their behavior is based off survival tactics of one or another. Then i hear stories of birds that land on a people yards consistently or even their shoulders or heads, or that dance to attract a mate. I just began wondering about their social nature when I noticed the pigeons and the sparrows. But thank you for all the great answers to everyone on this thread.
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Old Thursday 31st October 2019, 14:07   #9
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I would argue that all behavior, and all emotion, including the very expressive happiness of humans and dogs, is ultimately based on survival. Dogs being a good example: we humans created dog breeds that express happiness like mad, because that's what we like.

Many species of animals can't afford to be so expressive - they have to be somewhat stealthy to survive. But mostly we humans just don't know how to read the expressions of most other animals. Still, it's not too hard to think of examples where animals behave towards their mates, or their young, in ways that are hard to distinguish from human affection. Many species of parrots, for example, spend more time grooming their mates than would make sense if they were simply looking for ticks or other food.

One way to get a bird to hang around a member of another species is for that other species to be present when the bird hatches. Look up the old films of Konrad Lorenz...
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Old Sunday 3rd November 2019, 15:23   #10
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I'd think that a bird's life consists of a range of emotions ranging at one end from what we would consider as severe anxiety (on a good day) to outright terror at the other end if it's to survive.
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