It is always amazing to learn how different species work together. A recent study showed that grey squirrels listen to the chatter of birds to determine if there is danger or if it is safe.
Anyone who watches birds at a bird feeder will recognize the chatter of birds that are content and feel safe. Squirrels also respond to bird chatter to see if it is safe to raid the bird feeder or forage in the area. If the birds react to danger, the squirrel also reacts. By the same token, if the birds return to their normal “all is safe” chatter, the squirrels also assume it is safe.
This brings up interesting questions about how many other animals communicate in this way. I have noticed a difference in my pet budgies reaction to the safe chatter of songbirds when I have a window opened. They seem to chatter more then when they are by themselves. The only other time my birds are as vocal is when they like the music I am playing. Interesting to say the least.
It is rather amazing how many insects’ birds eat a year. To give you an idea of how much they eat, one metric ton equals 2204 lbs.
Most of the energy that birds get from eating insects (and seeds for seed eating birds) goes to maintaining their energy. Little goes to their body weight, according to a study led by Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel in Switzerland.
This is one reason why it is important to offer a bird friendly habitat in your own backyard. Many birds eat both seeds and insects, depending on the time of the year and the weather. Woodpeckers that eat mostly insects will eat seeds in the winter when insects are scarce.
A bird friendly habitat will offer shelter, food, water and nesting sites for all types of birds. Offering seeds and suet in the winter will keep insect eating birds in your area and that will benefit you and your garden in the warmer time of the year.
It is also interesting to note that spiders consume as much and more insect than birds. They eat between 400 and 800 insects a year.
Richard Hahnloser a researcher from the Institute of Neuroinformatics run by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich has made an interesting discovery. He found that Zebra finches divide the complex task of learning a new song into manageable parts. When the song was changed, the birds adapted the syllables or notes of the song that they knew to the new song. After a short period of time they were able to master the new song.
The researchers found that the method that the birds used is similar to the method that computer linguists use to compare documents. It is also the same method that children use to learn a primary and secondary language.
The real implication of the study is not only the technique that the birds use, but the intelligence and thought process that they have to use this technique. It requires awareness and the ability to analyze. The more we learn about animals, the more we realize they are much more intelligent than previously thought. How exciting it is to think of what discoveries await us.
Dogs do it, rats do it and chimps do it, why not birds? A new study has determined that the Kea, a New Zealand parrot has a “play laugh” that will get other Kea’s to play with them.
Researchers felt that the play laugh was infectious making other birds play with each other. If a bird heard the play laugh and had no one to play with, they would play by themselves. The researchers plan to study more about this aspect of the Kea’s behavior. What is interesting is that this is the first time a researcher has discovered play laughter in a bird. All other research showed it in mammals.
However, this should not be surprising, anyone who has owned multiple birds has seen them play together or at the same time but this is the first time a call or sound has been connected with the behavior
Birds in general are much smarter than previously thought. They form friendships, work together and protect each other.
Most people have seen flocks of geese grazing in a field or by the water. If you look closely you will see one or two geese standing with their heads held high scanning the area for danger. They are the geese on guard.
Crows will have meetings to learn who had the best success in finding food that day. The next day some of the members of the flock will follow the successful crows.
Certain types of birds, such as Chickadees, Titmouse, and others will let birds in the area know that they have found a well-stocked bird feeder, especially in the winter. The other birds learn to listen for the announcement.
New research shows that some birds will establish their spring nesting sites near the birds they made friends with during the winter. They seem to share boundaries with the birds that they are closest too. What is interesting is that the birds will form friendships. This indicates that the birds have social interactions with each other, perhaps more than we humans suspected.
Even birds that typically live a solitary life, such as Robins, will join together and flock to migrate. Sometimes a person is able to predict the weather by the behavior of the wild birds. The birds seem to know when a storm is coming, sometimes a day before.
How fascinating it is to learn about wild animals. Birds are easy to watch if you put up a few bird feeders. It is wonderful that scientists are learning how smart animals really are.