Now.....remember that game? Listen to it and 'relive' it once more. Did you ever make it to the front and if so, what feeling did you get? You won, you were in charge, you had the fun of sending others 'back to the start'..... Life was simple, eh?
Well....life gets complicated but for some animals the skills learned in Red Light Green Light will keep you alive. It isn't a matter of just winning, it is a matter of living.
The other day looking out my window where my feeders are I saw the usual cast. Gold Finches, Juncos, a sparrow or two, a Blue Jay etc... a chaotic mass as they took after my bird food. Yet, all of a sudden.....there was no suddenness to it, but only stillness. Out of the corner of my eye, and in that quick of a time between the chaotic movement and 'stillness', a neighborhood Coopers made it's way to a tree. Now, this tree was rather far away and from what I could tell, it was hidden from all bird eyes. And yet, the birds suddenly became still.
No movement.....not a flick of the feather or a tic or a scatter for safety...nada. Nothing.... just stillness. The Coopers in the tree, the birds on the ground and in the feeders. The Coopers' moved and craned his neck and turned and viewed but the birds did absolutely nothing. They stayed in place, just like in Red Light, Green Light.....
The amazing thing is that they stayed 'in place....with no movement what-so-ever' for 20 minutes. Yes man, you heard me right...20 minutes. No movement. After 20 minutes the Cooper's left the coop, sort of speaking....and immediately upon the retreat, the birds became alive once more. But they just continued doing what they were doing before. Some clawed the earth, some pecked the seed, some just scratched around etc. It was like the previous 20 minutes they were in this trance and once out of the trance, they moved on with life. Simply amazing...amazing...
I was doing some reading up on this and I can't find any thing that states that birds have a 'sense' for danger, although I know they must as we all know they do, but nothing on the actual 'sense' itself. They have excellent eye-sight but how did they view the Coop's thru the trees? Some of these birds were behind or underneath other trees and yet somehow they got the message that a predator was in the vicinity. How? .... How do they know? What sense do they have that 'we lack'... Or perhaps we do have that sense but thru the years and decades and centuries, we have lost that as an active sense? It is still there as to a degree we can sense 'danger' but not to the degree that birds have it. Right? ....makes you wonder eh?
The Cooper's was playing Red Light Green Light and no one was caught...they all became winners, which means of course that the Coopers' had to go back to the beginning of the line while the passerines all called out Red Light Green Light. Oh...where did the 'yellow light' come from? I don't remember that as being part of the game.....
See below....actual footage (not doctored)....but real archived footage of event as it occurred. :-)