When I first started watching this video, I wasn't too sure this was play, as the title of the video suggests. It's not often you see a bird on its back, with a puppy pouncing it, and consider it a positive situation (at least positive for the bird) so I was a little nervous. I wondered if the bird wasn't flying away because it couldn't. But as the video rolls on, you quickly realize that the bird is very much this puppy's playmate — the little dog is quite gentle, and the bird is actually often the instigator of their mischief. Switching from silliness to curiosity, from sitting together to running around, you witness a wonderful example of animals just plain old having a good time together. And that is undeniably cute!
This is a great example of interspecies communication, of understanding body language of a very different species well enough to get along and be joyful together, of understanding when play is simply play. In fact, it is communication among three species — the bird and dog playing, and the humans on the scene who are also able to read that this is just another morning in the sun for these two and there's nothing about their interaction to fret over. It is fun to witness play among members of the same species — and downright wonderful to witness it between members of different species. It reminds us that play — the expression of happiness and carefree joy — is universal.
The bird looks like perhaps an Eurasian magpie to me. But I'm no bird expert, so if you know what species it is, please let us know in the comments.
Related on MNN: