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Thread: Flight Zone

  1. #1 Flight Zone 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_zone

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of migrating birds that make the nearby Niagara River a stopover during the winter months. Along the Niagara Parkway there are many places where one can stop the car and look out over vast rafts of water fowl. Can't help but notice that as soon as you pull your car in, the birds ease slightly away from the shore. Once one exits the automobile and approaches the riverbank on foot, the birds then swim much farther away. Local water birds such as Canada Geese react differently and allow one to approach much closer before moving away.

    My question is: What exactly goes on in the mind of a wild animal as another one approaches? Many times we hear the expression 'sensing danger' and when I personally sense it, I usually formulate a picture in my mind of an unpleasant outcome for a potential future event. Certainly some of my reaction is due to knowledge imparted to me by my parents when I was young yet there are creatures out there with no parental upbringing that still maintain a flight zone. How do they do it?

    Is sensing danger instinctual or a learned behavior? By learned I mean taught by parents or self taught through experience (ie like when a baby sea turtle runs for the surf, does it begin to learn of danger via observation)?

    I think the flight zone would be an evolutionary trait, refined with each passing generation. A flight from danger being an involuntary response to stimuli with no real thought or imagination at work? Or could animals actually see danger in some sort of synesthetic way, as if it was a color or warning signal? Simply put, could an animal picture it's own demise like I can?


    Last edited by zinjanthropos; February 25th, 2018 at 08:04 AM. Reason: broke my own rule...never say 'I believe...'
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I think the flight zone would be an evolutionary trait, refined with each passing generation. A flight from danger being an involuntary response to stimuli with no real thought or imagination at work? Or could animals actually see danger in some sort of synesthetic way, as if it was a color or warning signal? Simply put, could an animal picture it's own demise like I can?
    I think it is a distance thing coupled with a movement thing.
    Things that don't move can get a lot closer than things that move fast.
    I believe the animals directly incorporate the visual impact of things in their line-of-sight into a zone of comfort detector.
    Large, fast-moving, high-contrast things literally catch their eye easier, and trigger their defensive responses (moving away, looking up more often, making less noises.)

    Of course, those things can be modified by learned behavior. Every duck and goose an squirrel in a park learns that people often mean free food, and will crowd around.
    Just last fall, on a woodlands hike near Hamilton, I had nuthatches landing on my outstretched hand to take food.


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