Research shows birds have snake alarm?

When the Japanese tit hears a rattling alarm call like that of a snake, it responds as if a snake was nearby and reacts to objects that might be moving like a snake.

Scientists used a wooden stick to demonstrate the same talent in the Japanese tit, a songbird that produces particular alarm calls only when it encounters dangerous snakes.

In a series of experiments, recordings of snake-specific calls were played while the birds approached a stick being moved in a serpentine fashion up a tree trunk or along the ground.

The birds responded as if threatened, but ignored the stick if other non-snake alarm calls were played or the stick’s movement was not snake-like enough.

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Ron Wilson

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