The mimics among us — birds pirate songs for personal profit

Palm Oil Detectives


From Roman classics to British tabloids, humans have long celebrated the curious and remarkable ability of birds to imitate the sounds of humans and other animals. A recent surge of research is revealing how and why birds use vocal mimicry to further their own interests, as we discuss in Biological Reviews.


Anastasia Dalziell, Cornell University and Justin A. Welbergen, Western Sydney University

Far from being merely a biological curiosity, it appears that vocal mimicry plays a more central role in the lives of birds than we have given them credit for.

Most birds communicate using vocalisations unique to their own kind, but a diverse group of species from around the globe regularly imitate the sounds of other animals, including sounds we produce ourselves.

In Australia, these avian “mimics” are all around us. On a stroll in the Blue Mountains, for example, you can expect to encounter…

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