JUL 13, 2016 11:02 AM PDT

Some Female Birds Sing as a Form of Self Defense

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

There are many forms of self-defense in nature, whether it’s striking back, running away, camouflaging into the background to prevent an attack, or using the power of numbers to intimidate an enemy, animals have to do what they have to do to keep themselves safe from predators that want to eat them.
 
However, not all forms of self-defense particularly, make a whole lot of sense.
 

Female tits deal with life-threatening danger from predators by singing.

 Image Credit: Katharina Mahr/Vetmeduni Vienna

In a recent study published in the Journal of Ornithology, researchers found that female blue tits, a species of small bird, defend themselves by singing. They seem to, quite literally, sing for lives when confronted with a predator, or something that looks like a predator.
 
"We presented the nest of blue tits either with a stuffed sparrow hawk, a bird of prey, or an Aesculapian snake and analyzed the reactions mainly of female blue tits. We already knew that songbird males sometimes respond to threats by singing," said Herbert Hoi of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology at Vetmeduni Vienna.
 
Notably, the female songbirds only sang when presented with predator birds, but not the snake. The findings reveal that songbirds sing when their own lives are in danger, and not particularly when their hatchlings’ lives are in danger because snakes are more likely to go for the hatchlings and not the mother herself.
 
It’s a rather interesting behavior to be noted, as songbirds typically use their beautiful signing abilities as a means of competing with one another for dominance or for mating purposes, but capturing them sharing their notes in fear of their lives is something that has never been studied before.
 
Even more interesting, male songbirds are usually the ones that are the most vocal, but females typically prefer to stay quiet. This shows the singing behavior is also present in female songbirds, but for different reasons entirely.
 
Moreover, the researchers don’t think that the female singing is a type of distress call to alert nearby males, but rather is an attempt to alleviate stress or encourage their fellow mate. In some of the testing, the male was also in the nest and was also singing in these situations almost as if to work with the female to keep her strong during the event.
 
Future studies will have to be carried out to better understand the seemingly self-defensive behavior. It’s not fully understood why the birds go into a singing state when presented with danger, and this is certainly one of the main reasons they want to know more.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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