Navigation Links
Migrating songbirds learn survival tips on the fly

(Kingston, ON) Migrating songbirds take their survival cues from local winged residents when flying through unfamiliar territory, a new Queen's University-led study shows.

It's a case of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," says biologist Joseph Nocera, who conducted the research while working as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen's under the supervision of Biology professor Laurene Ratcliffe.

Avoiding predators can substantially increase a bird's chances of survival during migration, notes Dr. Nocera. But to do that, it first has to recognize who its predators are. "We believe some prey use social cues from other animals to gain information about potential predators," he says.

Findings from the study are published on-line in the current issue of the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

The research team tested whether migratory songbirds observe the anti-predator behaviour of local birds, which are familiar with local predators. One common form of this self-protecting behaviour is "mobbing": The birds approach a potential predator, rapidly changing position around its location and performing restless wing and tail movements while emitting loud, broad-frequency calls. These calls are easily recognizable and act as signals of threat.

Because migrating birds rarely participate in mobs, the researchers speculate that they may gain information about predator location, identity and degree of threat through listening to mob calls of other species residing in the area. To test this theory, they broadcast playbacks of alarm calls that were familiar (black-capped chickadee, common in North America) and foreign (blue-gray tanager, common in Central America) to birds migrating between Canada and Belize.

The Belizean resident birds responded only to the tanager calls, but migrant birds responded to both the tanagers and the chickadees.

These results present the first evidence that migrating birds pay attention to the anti-predator behaviour of local birds during migration, says Dr. Ratcliffe. "We suspect that the behaviour will be found to be a low-cost learning opportunity for migrants."

The next step for the researchers will be to compare sensitivity of migrating birds to unfamiliar mob-calls during their overwintering and migratory phases, and to assess the amount of information the respondents have learned by using predator decoys.


Contact: Nancy Dorrance
Queen's University

Related biology news :

1. For migrating sparrows, kids have a compass, but adults have the map
2. Migrating squid drove evolution of sonar in whales and dolphins, researchers argue
3. Learning and the brain
4. Distance learning course in radiation oncology for cancer treatment
5. Visual technology enables brain to learn in new ways
6. Research with squirrels provides clues on hormones role in human learning
7. Learning how to say no to alcohol advertising and peer pressure works for inner-city adolescents
8. Learning from cod collapse to save tuna
9. Computer learns dogspeak
10. Novel mechanism for long-term learning identified by Carnegie Mellon researchers
11. Breast cancer cells have to learn to walk before they can run
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Migrating songbirds learn survival tips on the fly
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016 ... deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the safety of ... during the major tournament Teleste, an ... systems and services, announced today that its video security solution ... to back up public safety across the country. The ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) ... million US Dollar project, for the , Supply ... Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... , June 1, 2016 Favorable ... Election Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics ... recently released TechSci Research report, " Global Biometrics Market ... Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global ... by 2021, on account of growing security concerns across ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. ... test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI ... stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... YORK , June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign ... to envision new ways to harness living systems and ... Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City ... than 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste ... Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware design ... Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together inventors ... and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... In a new case report published today in STEM CELLS ... developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection of stem ... with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , Lymphedema refers ...
Breaking Biology Technology: