Feeding behavior and chick-a-dee calls in the presence of predator models a field study of Carolina Chickadees (Poecile Carolinensis) /
This study describes feeding and chick-a-dee calling behavior of Carolina
chickadees (Poecile carolinensis) in the presence of predator models. Chickadees occur
in stable social groups over much of the year, and birds in social groups often indicate the
presence of predators through alarm calling and calling related to mobbing behavior.
Research with two other chickadee species has found a relationship between predator
stimuli and calling behavior, including the note composition of chick-a-dee calls.
Here, I presented Carolina chickadees with avian models, and a “no model”
control. The species represented by the avian models were the Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter
cooperii), a natural predator of chickadees; the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), a
bird of prey but not a predator of chickadees; and the American crow (Corvus
brachyrhynchos), a non-bird of prey. Stimuli were initially covered with a cloth and then
exposed during the experimental procedure. Audio recordings of flocks were obtained at
16 field sites in eastern Tennessee from October 2004 to March 2005.
Chickadees took significantly fewer seeds and produced more chick-a-dee calls
during the post-exposure period than during pre-exposure for both the hawk and owl
stimuli, but not for the crow and no model stimuli. I detected no effect of stimulus type
on note composition of chick-a-dee calls, but note composition was affected by the
proximity of the signaler to the seed stand for all four note types measured in this study.
Note composition in chick-a-dee calls in Carolina chickadees may not be strongly
influenced by external referents like predator type. Instead, note composition may be
influenced by the state of arousal of the signaler or its behavioral tendencies. An increase
in calling rate in Carolina chickadees may serve a general recruitment function, though
playback studies are needed to test these ideas.
School:The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
School Location:USA - Tennessee
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:carolina chickadee birds birdsongs alarm reaction animal communication
Date of Publication: