Female blue tit birds sing to defend themselves from predators

London, June 25 (IANS) The song of female blue tit birds is likely to indicate the presence of a predator, suggests a research adding that the birds may be singing in their own defence.

The singing behaviour of blue tits has long been associated with competitive behaviour and the search for a partner.

Moreover, males have been considered to be the more active singers whereas females were seen as relatively “lazy” with regard to singing.

However, the findings showed that in the presence of predators, the female blue tits sang at a similar pitch that further resembled their male counterparts.

“Our work confirms the assumption that females use their singing in more ways than just choosing their partner or defending their territory,” said Herbert Hoi, Professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.

“The animals may be indicating a heightened ability to escape. They show the predator that they have seen it and can flee at any time,” Hoi added.

For the study, the researchers used stuffed dummies of two predatory types in order to provoke a reaction from the birds.

“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,” Hoi said.

Further, the vocalisation did not serve as an alarm, however, nor was it limited to females.

The singing behaviour could also be linked to an endocrinological or adrenalin response of the body, said the paper published in the Journal of Ornithology.

The joint singing may also be seen as a way for the pair to encourage each other and to strengthen their bond, the researchers noted.

–IANS

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