'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: Study finds lasting severe weather impact in feathers of young birds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

New 'enigma' moth helps crack evolution's code

42 minutes ago

Aenigmatinea glatzella – which has iridescent gold and purple wings – is a 'living dinosaur' that represents an entirely new family of primitive moths. This is the first time since the 1970s that a new ...

Bridge jumper says sea lion saved him

4 hours ago

A man who jumped off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to try to take his own life and was kept afloat by a sea lion said Wednesday suicide prevention was now his life's work.

Brazil receives macaw pair from Germany

4 hours ago

A pair of endangered blue macaws of the kind made famous by the hit animated "Rio" movies arrived in Brazil from Germany on Tuesday as part of a drive to ensure the bird's survival.

Study shows one reason why pigeons so rarely crash

20 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers with Harvard University has uncovered one of the secrets behind pigeons' impressive flight abilities. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of ...

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.