This bird, found only in the arid grasslands and scrub lands of central and west-central India including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, is known for its ability to mimic 34 other bird species. Which bird is this?
a Rose-ringed parakeet
b Common Minah
c Tawny lark
d Red-whiskered Bulbul
Do you know?
Tawny lark: the dull brown-coloured bird that is small enough to fit in your palm can imitate calls of 34 other birds found in its habitat, and even shepherds’ whistles.
Many birds mimic the calls of other birds to impress females during territorial displays, to discourage competing species from using the area and to teach their young to associate the calls of other birds with danger. The diminutive crested Tawny lark – found only in the arid grasslands and scrub lands of central and west-central India including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra – belongs to a family of larks well-known for their mimicking abilities.
Male Tawny larks imitate the calls of 34 other bird species, including babblers and lapwings, with varied accuracy.
Interestingly, they even mimicked a squirrel and whistles of local shepherds – indicating that the birds learn from their surroundings.
Birds often learn to mimic other birds and sounds they hear, like Australia’s Superb lyrebird which can imitate chainsaws and car alarms. Though mimicry is poorly-studied and its functions highly debated, it is thought to influence the behaviour of birds (of the same species and others) that are listening.