Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 2:30pm
Using taxidermied, robotic birds of prey, scientists are exploring the nuances of bird warning calls and how they’re transmitted across the landscape, The New York Times reports. At one time, scientists thought that birds’ alarm calls were short-lived and produced to warn other nearby birds of imminent danger. Now, it’s possible that the calls could be spread across the landscape, picked up by various species of birds and passed through a forest at more than 160 kilometers per hour. The calls themselves could even be detailed enough to signal the difference between a pygmy owl or Cooper’s hawk. Even other species such as squirrels and chipmunks may eavesdrop on the calls and understand, at least somewhat, that the chirps signal an approaching predator, the scientists say.