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The response of American robins (Turdus migratorius) to aerial alarms

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image of Behaviour

Alarm calls are important signals that allow individuals to convey information about both predator type and risk level. How individuals respond to these calls may depend on both the intensity of the call as well as the age of the responder. We investigated an aerial alarm call of the American robin and specifically examined how call rate (reflecting intensity) and age affect the anti-predator behaviors of responders. Both juveniles and adults significantly altered their behavior upon hearing playbacks of seet calls; they foraged less and increased vigilance and other anti-predator behaviors. Adult robins were also able to distinguish between low intensity and high intensity calls; skygazing, an important behaviour that allows robins to scan for raptors, increased with call rate. Juveniles, on the other hand, skygazed less and there was a trend for juveniles to spend more time alert than adults suggesting that some learning may be involved.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA; Biology Department, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC, USA; 2: Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA


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