Animal Cognition

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1015–1019 | Cite as

You sound familiar: carrion crows can differentiate between the calls of known and unknown heterospecifics

  • Claudia A. F. Wascher
  • Georgine Szipl
  • Markus Boeckle
  • Anna Wilkinson
Short Communication

Abstract

In group-living animals, it is adaptive to recognize conspecifics on the basis of familiarity or group membership as it allows association with preferred social partners and avoidance of competitors. However, animals do not only associate with conspecifics but also with heterospecifics, for example in mixed-species flocks. Consequently, between-species recognition, based either on familiarity or even individual recognition, is likely to be beneficial. The extent to which animals can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar heterospecifics is currently unclear. In the present study, we investigated the ability of eight carrion crows to differentiate between the voices and calls of familiar and unfamiliar humans and jackdaws. The crows responded significantly more often to unfamiliar than familiar human playbacks and, conversely, responded more to familiar than unfamiliar jackdaw calls. Our results provide the first evidence that birds can discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar heterospecific individuals using auditory stimuli.

Keywords

Interspecies recognition Familiarity Vocal information Playback Carrion crows 

Supplementary material

10071_2012_508_MOESM1_ESM.docx (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 64 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia A. F. Wascher
    • 1
    • 2
  • Georgine Szipl
    • 1
    • 2
  • Markus Boeckle
    • 2
  • Anna Wilkinson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle (KLF), Department of Behavioural BiologyUniversity of ViennaGrünauAustria
  2. 2.Department of Cognitive BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.School of Life SciencesUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

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