Navigation Links
Are you looking at me?
Date:4/30/2008

In humans, the eyes are said to be the window to the soul, conveying much about a persons emotions and intentions. New research demonstrates for the first time that birds also respond to a humans gaze.

Predators tend to look at their prey when they attack, so direct eye-gaze can predict imminent danger. Julia Carter, a PhD student at the University of Bristol, and her colleagues, set up experiments that showed starlings will keep away from their food dish if a human is looking at it. However, if the person is just as close, but their eyes are turned away, the birds resumed feeding earlier and consumed more food overall.

Carter said This is a great example of how animals can pick up on very subtle signals and use them to their own advantage. Her results are published online today (30 April) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Wild starlings are highly social and will quickly join others at a productive foraging patch. This leads to foraging situations that are highly competitive. An individual starling that assesses a relatively low predation risk, and responds by returning more quickly to a foraging patch (as in the study), will gain valuable feeding time before others join the patch.

Responses to obvious indicators of risk a predator looming overhead or the fleeing of other animals are well documented, but Carter argued that a predators head orientation and eye-gaze direction are more subtle indicators of risk, and useful since many predators orient their head and eyes towards their prey as they attack.

This research describes the first explicit demonstration of a bird responding to a live predators eye-gaze direction. Carter added: By responding to these subtle eye-gaze cues, starlings would gain a competitive advantage over individuals that are not so observant. This work highlights the importance of considering even very subtle signals that might be used in an animals decision-making process.

Do these birds understand that a human is looking at them, and that they might pose some risk? As yet, this question has not been answered. But whether or not the responses involve some sort of theory of mind, and whether or not they are innate or acquired, the result is that starlings are able to discriminate the very subtle eye-gaze cues of a nearby live predator and adjust their anti-predator responses in a beneficial manner.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cherry Lewis
Cherry.lewis@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-928-8086
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Looking at neurons from all sides
2. Looking through the eyes of a mouse, scientists monitor circulating cells in its bloodstream
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... TEANECK, N.J. , May 16, 2017  Veratad ... leading provider of online age and identity verification solutions, ... the K(NO)W Identity Conference 2017, May 15 thru May ... Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. ... across the globe and in today,s quickly evolving digital ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... , April 24, 2017 ... and partner with  Identity Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) ... "With or without President Trump,s March 6, 2017 ... Terrorist Entry , refugee vetting can be instilled with ... resettlement. (Right now, all refugee applications are suspended ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ... filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday ... ... available in the Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at ... website at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... SANTA CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... SBIR grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single ... preparation kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from ... Cell Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development ... "New techniques for ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 Bar Biologics in an ... on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten billion people by 2050, ... a growing nation. At the same time, many of our valuable resources are becoming ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... Phoenix, Arizona (PRWEB) , ... ... ... than 15 years’ experience providing advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy ... the in-house expertise in application consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... On Tuesday, October 24th, ABC² ... the first-ever adaptive clinical trial for glioblastoma (GBM). The featured speaker will be ... and open to the public, but registration is required. , WHAT: ABC² ...
Breaking Biology Technology: