For a lark, this bird imitates 34 others!
Appearances are deceptive, and unbelievably so for the tiny 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. A team of scientists from Cornell University and the Bombay Natural History Society studied the flight songs of these birds in Gujarat and analysed the acoustics of their calls. They found that male Tawny larks imitate the calls of 34 other bird species, including babblers and lapwings, with varied accuracy.