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Mobbing gegen Eulen – ein häufig verkanntes Motiv in der darstellenden Kunst.
(von 1994 bis 2006 vergeben)
Mobbing, Verteidigungsverhalten, Agressionsverhalten
Tetrao urogallus, Cyanistes caeruleus, Fringilla coelebs, Garrulus glandarius, Carduelis spinus, Ardea cinerea, Vanellus vanellus, Parus major, Hirundo rustica, Tyto alba, Bombycilla garrulus, Athene noctua, Asio flammeus, Bubo bubo, Strix aluco, Asio otus
Auerhuhn, Blaumeise, Buchfink, Eichelhäher, Erlenzeisig, Graureiher, Kiebitz, Kohlmeise, Rauchschwalbe, Schleiereule, Seidenschwanz, Steinkauz, Sumpfohreule, Uhu, Waldkauz, Waldohreule
Ägypten, Tunesien, Deutschland, Schweiz
Mobbing of owls – art does not tell the whole story. Even a cursory perusal of art history in the last two thousand years leads to the conclusion that in all facettes of art, mobbing of owls repeatedly appears as a theme. This applies to every period of art as well as to all possible manners of art expression, e.g., in paintings, on tombs, in mosaics, in church windows, woodcuts and on woodcarvings. Taking a closer look, we realize that the fascinating story behind the staged scene has not been narrated nor have art experts expressed any interest in unveiling the contents. Mobbing scenes of owls employed in works of art conceal the complexity and dynamics of animal behaviour. Two situations of mobbing are familiar: either the scene is set in a natural environment with the owl encircled by mobbers, or the setting is a hunting scene in which the owl acts as a decoy. Both scenes were used frequently in paintings during the Baroque period by the Netherlandish school. «The Bird Concert» is a prime example. Mobbing, a particular form of interspecific teamwork to attack owls, has been re-interpreted in a manner intended to enchant the viewer. Only in rare instances did an artist present the species themselves, the owl center stage or the mobbers on the periphery in a manner that would meet the standards set in scientific accuracy. All in all, the paintings do capture a momentary sequence of the event more or less correctly, failing though to do justice to the intriguing story «behind the scene». Moreover, symbolism has become embedded in scenes the interpretation of which is often rather stretched. Focus is on the owl which symbolizes the bearer of wisdom and knowledge. However, interpolating the owl as symbolizing Jesus Christ and his sufferings is a far-fetched interpretation, one though that occurs frequently. Artists ignore the undisputable role of an owl as a large and potential predator. In line with that, mobbers are equated with a role not true to their intention. They are not aggressive, as commonly depicted, in the human sense of envy as a driver of this behaviour. Moreover, they are treated as cowards daring only to approach when they outnumber the enemy. This interpretation contradicts sharply with observations confirming mobbing as a form of risk-perception relying on a united effort to warn of danger close-by. This aspect of behaviour, based on social and altruistic elements, is indeed shared among different species of birds. Even today art experts continue to neglect these very components, otherwise highly valued in ethics and culture.
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