Letter | Published:

The Supposed “Fascination” of Birds by Snakes

Nature volume 101, page 224 (23 May 1918) | Download Citation



As I was correcting the proofs of the above, the following letter from Capt. Carpenter reached me. The behaviour observed by him is, I believe, to be interpreted as due to the interplay between two opposing impulses, both beneficial—one based on the fear of snakes, the other on social stimuli which incite to combination for the purpose of harassing an enemy. It is only to be expected that such interplay will lead to different behaviour with different species of bird, and perhaps with the same species in the presence of different types of snake. Differences are, above all, caused, as Mr. Swynnerton shows, by the behaviour of the snake, which, when it attacks the nest, brings in a third impulse—the defence of offspring—and leads the parent birds to act as though they were altogether without fear.

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  1. May 13.

    • E. B. P.


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