IN Cage Birds for Jan. 23, p. 62, R. E. D. Barrington records a curious case in which a female siskin, which had been persistently bullying a male before a blue-fronted Amazon parrot, was, after careful inspection, pulled through the bars of the cage and killed by the latter after it had been released from its own. This disposition to interfere in the quarrels even of alien species in what we should call the cause of justice appears to be widely spread in birds, judging from occasional instances which the writer has witnessed. A cariama thus interfered between two greater black-backed gulls, striking one which had injured and was pursuing the other; a female ruddy sheldrake forced a male common sheldrake to drop a mallard duckling which he was holding up by the tail; a piping crow-shrike (Gymnorhina) habitually attacked a magpie when it was bullying some other bird of the crow tribe, jay or jackdaw, and ultimately, it was said, killed it: these were captive birds, but Indian house-crows at large attacked a kite which was plucking alive a dabchick, not by the usual stealthy manœuvres with which they often try to rob this bird of its food, but by a fierce direct assault, which seemed to suggest a sympathy one would certainly not have expected in crows. He has seen no similar instance in mammals, but Romanes, in “Animal Intelligence”, records what seems like one, when a very sensitive terrier would seize his sleeve if, when driving, he touched the horse with the whip, in evident deprecation.
About this article
Cite this article
‘Bullying’ amongst Birds. Nature 129, 395 (1932). https://doi.org/10.1038/129395a0