April Fool's Day, wildlife edition!
On April Fool's Day, humans aren't the only ones who trick each other! Many wildlife species use tricks and deception to try and get ahead in the world.
This Northern Pygmy Owls fakes having eyes in the back of its head! Pygmy Owls are often harassed by songbirds who don't want the owl hunting around their nests. The songbirds swoop and dive at the owl's head to bother it along and it is thought that the eye-spots distract some of the songbirds and keep them away from the owl's vulnerable face and eyes!
Killdeer are also masters of deception. If a predator gets too close to a Killdeer's nest (which is on the ground), one or both of the Killdeer parents will relax their wing and drag it along the ground, making loud alarm noises. This looks exactly like a bird who is distressed over a broken wing so the predator will leave the nest area and come after the "injured" parent. Once they are far enough away from the nest, the Killdeer leaps into the air and flies away, and the predator is left without lunch!
Great Basin Gophersnakes trick other animals into thinking they're something they're not! To the untrained eye, a Gophersnake's pattern can look a bit like the pattern of a Rattlesnake. To capitalize on this similarity, a Gophersnake will start to behave like a Rattlesnake if it feels threatened. By puffing its cheeks to give itself a flat, triangular head, vibrating its tail on the ground and making a harsh buzzing hissing noise, the Gophersnake is usually convincing enough that many predators decide they don't want to take a chance and will walk away.