Another idea is that these birds would often see dogs.
However what they see is a wide range of: colours, sizes, shapes and speeds. So
very likely they do not associate these, what we call dogs, as a single concept,
on which to base a reaction. These things are rarely predatory. So they would
not necessarily learn to be bothered by them, even if they could form a single
mental concept of "dog". They would also see foxes. A fox is a fox, consistent
in appearance and it always looks and behaves like a predator. That gives
them something on which they can learn a response.
draw to attention that there does not always need to be logic. Sometimes I think
we people try too hard to find logic. In December 1986 I wrote an article
Canberra Bird Notes 11(4): 131. "Misidentified as dangerous" about me two years
earlier observing a similar group of birds mobbing a baseball glove. I suggested
that the leather and stitching on fingers probably made it look like a snake.
Coincidentally on the same page is an article by Ian M (McComas) Taylor "Choughs
mob fox" describing similar behaviour (sans dogs).
Barbara Allan [ Sent: Friday, 20 July 2012
11:15 AM To:
Subject: [canberrabirds] bedlam
(briefly) at Hawker ovals
After the worst of the frost the corgi and I headed out on
one of our regular beats around Hawker ovals. We enjoyed a few somewhat unusual
sightings for the area, namely a pair of Scarlet Robins and a male Golden
Whistler, saw a magpie putting the finishing touches to its nest, enjoyed
watching the “regulars” and socialising with other dogs and dog-walkers. Then
all hell broke loose. A fox swaggered its way up the path and was set upon by a
posse of magpies, currawongs and miners. Encouraged by the bedlam, one of the
dogs gave chase. The fox was last seen beating a decidedly rapid retreat up
Delamere St. The thing that particularly interested me in this episode was the
birds’ ability to differentiate between a fox and the domestic dogs, who were
quite ignored by the angry mob. b