I have observed a young Dusky adopt the frozen, head erect position while I was taking a video of it. Interestingly its sibling sitting beside it, but obscured by a branch (just visible in the picture), did not. (I was at about the level of the roost so it what you see in the picture is not because of the camera angle)
From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Friday, 10 January 2014 4:03 PM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] White-browed Woodswallows - dy defensive pose
Yes - I have seen that freezing behaviour, head raised stiffly, sufficiently often with White-broweds to think it is typical early fledging (not necessarily premature fledging) behaviour in response to a possible predator. It does not seem to happen with Duskies, for example the below premature fledger (discussed earlier) at Stony Creek which remained active and was eventually called back to the nest site by the parents. One assumes that the alarm calls by the parents prompt freezing (up to a point) in the White-browed, otherwise with Duskies
I thought the observation and photo from Leo to be really curious (as I had not known of passerines to do that) and it is well worth showing to a bigger audience. I had not encountered it or did not remember having heard of that behaviour before. I have just got around to checking HANZAB about it and although there are a lot of pages to scan through, it did not take long. Vol 7A page 431 for White-browed Woodswallows under "Anti-predator response of young" describes some prior observations of what I assume to be exactly that pose. It even cites (our own well known) G Dabb in an article (1999) in CBN 24(1):29-30. Although that described the posture as "frozen", which maybe Geoff can comment on whether it was the same thing. Curiously I don't see the same comment given for other Woodswallow species.
I normally would delete a photo if responding to a message but in this case it is relevant to keep it in.
-----Original Message-----From: Leo Berzins [m("internode.on.net","leo.berzins");">] Sent: Tuesday, 7 January 2014 6:59 PM To: m("canberrabirds.org.au","canberrabirds");">
Subject: [canberrabirds] Re: White-browed Woodswallows
Jude reported White-browed Woodswallows vigorously protecting their young on the ground.
I observed the same behaviour last week at Campbell Park and naturally moved on when I realised what the fuss was about.
Passing by the same spot an hour or so later, I observed a very different behaviour. A young W-b Woodswallow (possibly the same one) was motionless on a dead branch at eye level and doing its best Tawny Frogmouth impression. The parents were nearby but kept silent as I moved in a little closer for a quick photo.