Wild fledgling tits do not mob in response to conspecific or heterospecific mobbing calls

Nora V. Carlson, Susan D. Healy, Christopher N. Templeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Mobbing, where birds harass a predator through a combination of vocalizations and stereotyped behaviours, is an effective anti‐predator behaviour for many species. Mobbing may be particularly important for juveniles, as these individuals are often more vulnerable than adults. Although the component behaviours of mobbing are often considered to be un‐learned, there are few confirmatory data, and the developmental trajectory of mobbing is unknown. In this study, we tested whether conspecific or heterospecific mobbing calls initiated mobbing behaviour in juvenile Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus. We located wild adult and recently fledged juvenile Blue Tits and presented them with playback recordings of adult conspecific (Blue Tit) and heterospecific (Great Tit Parus major) mobbing alarm calls. Although adult birds readily mob in response to these types of playbacks, juveniles did not exhibit characteristic mobbing behaviour. Some juveniles did, however, exhibit individual components of mobbing behaviour found in mobbing, despite not producing adult‐like mobbing behaviour in response to either conspecific or heterospecific playback. These results suggest that, although birds might be capable of mobbing as juveniles, the associations between the non‐vocal stereotyped mobbing behaviours and mobbing calls may be learned.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalIbis
VolumeEarly View
Early online date26 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Alarm calls
  • Anti-predator behaviour
  • Blue Tits
  • Cyanistes caeruleus

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