'Curtain twitching' skylarks keep track of strangers through their songs (w/ Video)

Aug 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

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 in their song, they can keep an ear out for other birds that live nearby and kick any strangers out of the neighbourhood."

More information: Response to displaced neighbours in a territorial songbird with a large repertoire, Naturwissenschaften: Volume 96, Issue 9 (2009), Page 1067

Provided by Queen Mary, University of London (news : web)

Explore further: Lawyer: Confinement of chimps for research akin to slavery

Related Stories

Two Robot Chefs Make Omelets

Dec 04, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- No "house of the future" is complete without a household robot to do the cooking and cleaning. Although today´s robots still have a ways to go before substituting for a real live-in maid, ...

A Perfect Female Companion: Project Aiko

Dec 12, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Aiko is a humanoid robot with a built in Biometric Artificial Intelligence Neural System (Brain) designed by Le Trung in Canada. Aiko is slightly less than 5-feet high with 32.24-inch bust, ...

Foldable phone opens into large OLED screen

Nov 24, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new cell phone developed by Samsung opens like a book to reveal a larger OLED screen, essentially turning the phone into a portable media player. Samsung recently demonstrated the prototype ...

Recommended for you

Lawyer: Confinement of chimps for research akin to slavery

37 minutes ago

A lawyer seeking to free two chimpanzees from a state university told a judge Wednesday that their confinement for research purposes is akin to slavery, the involuntary detention of people with mental illnesses ...

How longhorned beetles find Mr. Right

1 hour ago

A longhorned beetle's sexy scent might make a female perk up her antennae. But when the males of several species all smell the same, a female cannot choose by cologne alone.

Can we easily distinguish male and female protoceratops?

10 hours ago

Anatomical and behavioral differences distinguish males and females in many extant and extinct animals. For instance, male peacocks have a large and flashy tail, whereas females are smaller and less brightly ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.