The more I learn about birds, the more that ‘bird brain’ seems a misnomer.  Here they are in a war zone, imitating the whistle of bullets so accurately as to put experienced soldiers on the alert.

‘Once there was a terrible whistling right over our heads, but we couldn’t hear any shots.  We didn’t know what on earth was happening.  It turned out to be the starlings imitating bullets … The lieutenant had even put us on alert – they did it perfectly.’

Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman; trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 245

Photo credit: Igor Ovsyannykov at


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