Nautilus

Why Birds Love Mobs

When I tell Katie Sieving, an avian wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, that it’s probably a stretch to call “mobbing” an act of heroism, she laughs. Mobbing, as the term suggests, involves a mob: It’s when a group of animals band together to harass and drive out a common predator—a behavior already well-known to the ancients by the time Aristotle described it in 350 BC, in Historia Animalium. Squirrels, fish, African ungulates, otters, and even insects will mob predators, but birds have developed it to an art form. Sieving calls the small North American songbirds she studies, known as titmice, heroes all the time. “They’re like the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus8 min read
There’s No Homunculus In Our Brain Who Guides Us: Why the cognitive-map theory is misguided.
In the early 1980s, the psychologist Harry Heft put a 16 mm camera in the back of a sports car and made a movie. It consisted of a continuous shot of a residential neighborhood in Granville, Ohio, where Heft was a professor at Denison University. It
Nautilus5 min readPsychology
Why We Love to Be Grossed Out
Nina Strohminger, perhaps not unlike many fans of raunchy comedies and horror flicks, is drawn to disgust. The University of Pennsylvania psychologist has written extensively on the feeling of being grossed out, and where it comes from. The dominant
Nautilus7 min read
Mapping Gay-Friendly Cities Through History: A data analyst uncovers a timeless message about correlation.
Claudius Ptolemy’s monumental astronomy book, the Almagest, established a unified mathematical framework for computing the positions of the sun, moon, stars, and planets at any time in the past, present, or future. So comprehensive and so compelling