Falling for an optical illusion is all too common. No matter how smart we might be, it is easy to convince ourselves we are seeing something that is not there or to misunderstand what is being presented before our very eyes.
And that's certainly the case for this viral video shared on Twitter by Dan Quintana, accompanied with the caption: “Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose”. But is it a bunny or a raven?
The creature turns out to be a raven enjoying a head scratch with its beak open. While the video and caption don't seem to have fooled anyone (at least not for too long), the illusion is convincing enough at a glance. Many were reminded of the rabbit-duck illusion published in a German humor magazine in 1892. The ambiguous image, made by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, was accompanied by the caption “Which animals are most like each other? Rabbit and Duck.”
While we don't have evidence to suggest ducks are similar to rabbits, we at least now have footage to suggest we can be fooled, even momentarily, by a raven as a bunny. After all, sometimes life imitates art.
The video in question also reminded people of another raven video that went viral early this year. The footage revealed a feature of birds we don’t usually see: their ears. The person in question strokes the corvid’s head, then lifts the bird’s feathers and reveals the ear hole of the animal.
The star of the video is actually the same raven, whose name is quite fitting: Mischief. Mischief is a white-necked raven, smaller than a common raven, and is found in eastern and southern Africa.
Both videos were filmed by Paige Davis, a conservationist and curator of Bird Training at the World Bird Sanctuary. The World Bird Sanctuary is in St. Louis, Missouri, and provides refuge to hundreds of birds every year, helping many to return to the wild.