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Seasonal variation in mobbing behaviour of passerine birds

Abstract : When they detect a predator, many birds exhibit mobbing behaviour and produce mobbing calls that quickly draw other prey against the predator. This anti-predator strategy often involves several species and, therefore, implies heterospecific communication. As fledging and nestling stages could be particularly targeted by predators, a high mobbing intensity is to be expected during the breeding season. While recognizing other species’ mobbing calls is critical to setting up this behav- iour, to date, we have no information about the perception of these calls with regard to the season. Here, we used playbacks of mobbing calls to study the variation in response of the Great Tit (Parus major) and the Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) exposed to the mobbing calls of two heterospecific species, the Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), and the Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). To investigate mobbing response seasonality, we conducted playback experiments during spring (breeding season) and autumn (non-breeding season). Contrary to most previous studies, we found that mobbing intensity was greater in autumn than in spring. Additionally, although neither Nuthatch nor Wren is related to the Tit family, we found that both Tit species responded more to the former than the latter species. At the heterospecific communication level, this study demonstrates a previously unsuspected level of complexity in the use of mobbing calls.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 9:39:53 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 30, 2022 - 11:12:08 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 9:24:09 AM


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Mylène Dutour, Marion Cordonnier, Jean-Paul Léna, Thierry Lengagne. Seasonal variation in mobbing behaviour of passerine birds. Wilson journal of ornithology, 2019, 160 (2), pp.509-514. ⟨10.1007/s10336-019-01630-5⟩. ⟨hal-02155214⟩



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