June 27, 2011
Some birds use information gathered from eavesdropping on their enemies to find safer areas to build their nests, scientists have found.
Birds that nest on the ground, such as ovenbirds and veeries, fall prey to predators as many eggs and fledglings struggle to survive. Neighboring chipmunks are a major threat.
These birds use a range of cues to determine the location of their nests, but Quinn Emmering and Dr. Kenneth Schmidt from Texas Tech University suggest that the “chips,” “chucks” and “trills” made by chipmunks were being eavesdropped on by the birds.
“Chipmunks are vociferous, calling often during the day and sometimes joining in large choruses,” says Emmering. “We thought this might be a conspicuous cue that nesting birds could exploit.”