Scientist Wears Giant Bird Head for a Year to Befriend Real Birds, Fails

A Japanese scientist studying the languages of birds wore a giant bird mask on his head for an entire year in order to trick a nest of great tits to allow him to approach them.

Toshitaka Suzuki, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, recently shared a bizarre photo of a man wearing a giant bird head on Twitter. It turns out that the photo taken somewhere in the forests of Nagano Prefecture shows a fellow scientist who decided to wear the ‘disguise’ for an entire year in order to get close to a nest of great tits without triggering their distress calls. Ornithologists and bird behavior experts had noticed that certain bird species were capable of remembering human faces and that they would stop their usual chirping to put out warning calls whenever they saw these individuals approaching. Having wound up on the tits’ blacklist, the Japanese scientist decided to disguise himself as a giant bird in order to approach the birds and study their chirping.

Photo: Toshitaka Suzuki/Twitter

At one point, the unnamed scientist, who conducts research on the behavior and evolutionary chemistry of bats and birds, had to approach the great tits’ nest and weigh their chicks, and ever since then the birds would switch from their usual chirping to the characteristic ‘Pee-tu-pi’ warning calls whenever they spotted him. This made it hard for the man to conduct his research on their language, so he came up with the idea of a disguise.

According to Prof. Suzuki, his colleague wore the disguise for an entire year, but his experiment ended in failure. Whenever the great tits noticed him approaching, they started emitting their warning calls. The result was exactly the same when the man finally took out the headgear and tried getting closer to the nest.

Maybe he should have tried some bird-shaped shoes as well, to complete the disguise?

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