Interspecific attraction to the mobbing calls of black-capped chickadees (Parus atricapillus)
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The species and number of birds attracted to playbacks of mobbing calls and song of the black-capped chickadee, Parus atricapillus, were compared. The chickadee vocalizations were played at abandoned chickadee nests, and the numbers and species of other birds that approached the speaker were tallied. Few non-chickadees were observed in the area when the song was played. That significantly more birds approached the speaker and displayed mobbing behavior during the mobbing call playback suggests that black-capped chickadee mobbing vocalizations carry meaning for at least ten other avian species. This finding supports the idea that species subjected to the same predators in an area may benefit by recognizing each others’ predator calls. This recognition may be facilitated by the similar structure of different species’ mobbing calls and also a learned association of another species’ call with the presence of a predator.
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