Female blue tits sing in the face of danger

June 28, 2016
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The scientists revealed that birds blue tits sing for themselves when their life is in danger, too. The ornithologists Herbert Hoi and Katharina Mahr of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology at Vetmeduni Vienna have demonstrated for the first time that female blue tits sing in the presence of a predator.

Both female nd male blue tits are displaying a variety of vocal patterns. That was a point of departure in the research of German ornithologists Hoi and Mahr from Vienna University. Scientists suggest that vocalization is not an art or competition, but it is reaction to the danger, too.

As an experiment, Hoi and Mahr have been set up a special situations, researchers needed to provoke the big tits to proof their scientific hypothesis. Ornithologists used stuffed dummies of two predatory types in order to provoke a reaction from the blue tits of both sexes. As Hoi explained:

“We presented the nest of blue tits either with a stuffed sparrow hawk, a bird of prey, or an Aesculapian snake and analysed the reactions mainly of female blue tits. We already knew that songbird males sometimes respond to threats by singing.

Thus, blue tits’ song resembled that of the males also present in the simulated predation event. It is interesting that the blue tits react to the threat by singing. They show the predator that they have seen it and can flee at any time”, Hoi says.

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