Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Curtain Twitching' Skylarks Keep Track Of Strangers Through Their Songs

Date:
August 30, 2009
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Skylarks can hear the difference between friendly neighbors and dangerous strangers, and deal with any threatening intruders, says new research.

Skylark. Skylarks can hear the difference between friendly neighbours and dangerous strangers, and deal with any threatening intruders, says new research by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.
Credit: Copyright Queen Mary, University of London

Skylarks can hear the difference between friendly neighbours and dangerous strangers, and deal with any threatening intruders, says new research by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

Male skylarks learn to recognise local dialects in their neighbours' individual songs, remember where each neighbour is supposed to be and reprimand intruders who don't belong in the neighbourhood, according to a study carried out by Dr. Elodie Briefer, a postdoctoral researcher at Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

Published in the Springer journal Naturwissenschaften ¹ this week, Dr. Briefer and her colleagues at the University of Paris South found that skylark neighbours are tolerated if they stay in their own territory, whereas strangers - skylarks who belong to another neighbourhood - are attacked if they intrude too close to the nest.

Researchers also observed the birds' reactions when they heard the recorded song of another skylark from different directions. The results of the study showed how neighbouring birds who travel too far from their regular territory - a move which is seen as threatening - also run the risk of being attacked.

Males skylarks fiercely guard their chosen home territory, the area of land where they make their nest and hunt for food. The size and position of the male's territory is also important as female birds check it out before deciding who is going to make the best father to her chicks. Each skylark will usually have several neighbours, living in territories that border his own.

Bird songs are among the most complex sounds produced by animals and the skylark (Alauda arvensis) is one of the most complex of all. The songs are composed of 'syllables', consecutive sounds produced in a complex way, with almost no repetition. The male skylark can sing more than 300 different syllables, and each individual bird's song is slightly different.

Dr. Briefer's research found that the songs of neighbouring skylarks share more syllables with each other than they do with strangers, like a dialect. She says: "This may have evolved because it is safer for the birds to live close together, but they need a way to keep intruders out. By sharing a local dialect in their song, they can keep an ear out for other birds that live nearby and kick any strangers out of the neighbourhood."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Briefer et al. Response to displaced neighbours in a territorial songbird with a large repertoire. Naturwissenschaften, 2009; 96 (9): 1067 DOI: 10.1007/s00114-009-0567-0

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "'Curtain Twitching' Skylarks Keep Track Of Strangers Through Their Songs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090826073542.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2009, August 30). 'Curtain Twitching' Skylarks Keep Track Of Strangers Through Their Songs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090826073542.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "'Curtain Twitching' Skylarks Keep Track Of Strangers Through Their Songs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090826073542.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins