In animal behavioural research on vigilance, visual signs of alertness are usually used to estimate perceived risk (an internal “fear” state) of free-ranging animals. Different measures of vigilance and competing activities (e.g., predator vigilance, conspecific vigilance, feeding, food handling) provide clues for better understanding vigilance behaviour. How efficiently does an animal in a vigilant/non-vigilant posture devote attention to threats or invest in other activities, such as searching for or handling food? Several species regularly withdraw to a sheltered spot when feeding in an abundant food patch, spending short periods in complete safety. Frequencies of feeding interruptions or false-alarm flights provide alternative measures of fear. I review how these phenomena may relate to the human understanding of the threats animals may perceive.

Author Biography

Ferenc Mónus is an evolutionary biologist studying foraging and antipredatory strategies in birds, the role of spatial position in behavioural responses of birds, human mate choice, and the methods and efficacy of environmental education.