Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was Grey Butcherbird mimicry) co

To: <>
Subject: Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was Grey Butcherbird mimicry) correction of typo
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2010 22:08:36 +1100
Sorry an embarrassing typo. I left out one important letter. Of course I
meant: "It was influential in my analysis". Not "I was........." (which
sounds rather dopey).

I do wish the discussion on mimicry would advance beyond the listing of
that birds mimic other birds and what. We know they do and that in most
cases it is simple copying and nothing to do with real mimicry. And in
most cases it serves no practical benefit beyond an expression of vocal
behaviour to as I think Robinson calls it "phatic communication" the
meaning relating to "I am here and making a noise that does not mean
anything except aren't I clever in my ability to make noises" I do wish
people would read that article by Dobkin and of course my one about the
Regent Honeyeater which is different from other birds in the restricted
range of species copied and the precise context used and a few other odd
ones like the Robin-chat of Africa. 

The one other angle that is interesting is the occasional but noted
often enough to be worth commenting on habit of small birds like
Thornbills of indulging of vocal mimicry of large birds when being held
during banding. 


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Philip Veerman
Sent: Friday, 2 April 2010 3:53 PM
To: 'Margaret Cameron'; 'michael norris'; 
Subject: Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was Grey
Butcherbird mimicry)

The best ever discussion of why birds mimic or at least a model on which
to analyse it,  was given in a 1979 paper: by David S Dobkin (currently
or recently editor of The Condor). 'Functional and evolutionary
relationships of vocal copying phenomena in birds', Zeitschrift fur
Tierpsychologie 50, 348-363. I have corresponded with him recently about

I was influential in my analysis: about Batesian Acoustic Mimicry by the
Regent Honeyeater.

In most cases the mimicry of birds has no relevance to the model being
imitated. The Regent Honeyeater is an exception and the African
Robin-chat may be another.

Philip Veerman
24 Castley Circuit
Kambah  ACT  2902
02 - 62314041


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