Navigation Links
Great tits eat bats in times of need
Date:9/25/2009

This release is available in German.

Necessity is the mother of invention: Great Tits eat hibernating common pipistrelle bats under harsh conditions of snow cover. This remarkable newly-acquired behaviour was observed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and their colleagues in a cave in Hungary. When the researchers offered the birds alternative feed, they ate it and showed little or no interest in flying into the cave again. (Biology Letters, online prepublication from September 9, 2009).

Reports on the ingenuity of birds of the tit family in their search for food go as far back as the 1940s when it was observed that Blue Tits in the British Isles had learned how to open the aluminium tops of milk bottles left on doorsteps by milkmen to get at the cream that had formed on top of the milk. Another astonishing acquired behaviour among Great Tits (Parus major) has now been observed by the researchers working with Bjrn Siemers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and their Hungarian colleagues. On 21 observation days over two winters, Great Tits flew a total of 18 times into a cave in north-east Hungary to look for and eat the Common Pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) hibernating there. The researchers explain this behaviour with the extreme necessity they faced in their search for food. Great Tits eat insects or arachnids in summer and usually look for seeds and berries in winter. Winters in north-east Hungary can be very harsh, however, with closed snow cover.

The observed cave had a large entrance. Therefore, a small amount of light penetrated into it and the birds were able to find their way around in the semi-darkness. The birds probably locate the bats in the cave through the sounds that hibernating animals make when disturbed and awoken. These sounds range from the human acoustic range to the ultra-sound range. The researchers proved that these sounds were within the audible range of the birds by playing a recording of the bat sounds to them. The birds responded by moving towards the loudspeaker with interest. "These sounds probably have a defensive purpose," says Bjorn Siemers, "and it would seem plausible that the birds use the sounds to locate the bats." The Great Tits needed at most 15 minutes from entry into the cave to capture a bat. In some cases, they carried the Pipistrelles out of the cave in their beaks and ate them on nearby trees.

This behaviour is strongly dependent on the available food supply, however. When the researchers placed an additional food source in the form of sunflower seeds and bacon fat a few metres away from the entrance to the cave, only one of the birds still went looking for a bat. "Behavioural flexibility coupled with altered environmental conditions, e.g. food scarcity, can trigger astonishing innovations in animal behaviour," concludes Siemers. This innovative behaviour is not an isolated case and is probably passed on from generation to generation. Pter Estk, the first author of the study, had already observed a Great Tit eating a bat in the same cave ten years ago. A similar observation was also reported in Poland. "This could support the idea of cultural learning between different populations or it could indicate an independent development in different locations with the same ecological conditions," notes Bjrn Siemers in conclusion.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Bjrn M. Siemers
siemers@orn.mpg.de
49-815-793-2348
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Worlds last great forest under threat: New study
2. Why sleep? UCLA scientist delves into one of sciences great mysteries
3. Round Goby invade Great Lakes
4. Investing wisely to save the Great Barrier Reef
5. Ovarian transplantation: New technique gives greatly improved results in this delicate operation
6. New, less invasive genetic test greatly improves pregnancy rates in older women with poor prognosis
7. What makes a great footballer?
8. From Jack the Ripper to great white sharks
9. Genetic testing for breast or ovarian cancer risk may be greatly underutilized
10. Innerscope Research(R) Receives Three Great Minds Innovation Awards from the Advertising Research Foundation
11. Innerscope Research(R) Receives Three Great Minds Innovation Awards from the Advertising Research Foundation
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Great tits eat bats in times of need
(Date:4/26/2016)... BANGALORE, India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a ... ), and Onegini today announced a partnership to ... banking solutions.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ... banks to provide their customers enhanced security to ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... April 20, 2016 The new ... a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door ... reader or the door interface with integration authorization management ... control systems. The minimal dimensions of the access control ... the building installations offer considerable freedom of design with ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Research and ... Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... , ,The global gait biometrics market is expected ... the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates ... be used to compute factors that are not ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)...   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, ... financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will ... its drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional ... has been an incredible strategic partner to us – ... would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced that ... joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am thrilled that ... of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, Hays brings ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Ky. , June 23, 2016 ... two Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement ... placebo-controlled, single and multiple ascending dose studies designed ... pharmacodynamics (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult ... subcutaneously (SC) either as a single dose (ranging ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 ... 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published recently ... peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz ... of cancer care is placing an increasing burden ... expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on many ...
Breaking Biology Technology: