A frantic cacophony of loud, rapid birdcalls tells other birds there’s a predator on the prowl. It’s called “mobbing” as birds clamor and dart — back and forth — at the threat. An ongoing study of mobbing and other bird warning behavior suggests that some birds listen in on the warnings of other birds. A wave of warning calls spreads from one hillside to another at more than 100 miles per hour. So vulnerable birds may be clued in to the movements of predators like this Northern Pygmy-Owl, giving them time to take cover.
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[Black-capped Chickadee mobbing sounds: http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/14646]
A frantic cacophony of loud, rapid birdcalls tells other birds nearby: there’s a predator on the prowl. Mobbing, it’s called, as birds clamor and dart — back and forth — at the threat.
The predator’s size might also be coded in the bird’s alarm calls. Chickadees announce an urgent alarm for a small, agile pygmy-owl that’s a major threat to them: [Repeat mobbing sounds]