Study: Grey Squirrels eavesdrop on birds to determine if they are in danger.
A recent study published in the journal Plos One, reveals that squirrels will listen to the sounds of birds to determine if they are safe in they’re surroundings. When foraging and handling food, squirrels frequently pause and briefly scan their surroundings, presumably to survey for potential predators . Although gray squirrels do not follow particular bird species while foraging, they share habitat with many songbird species. During the study, researchers played the sound of a hawk (which is a squirrel and small bird predator). As expected when the squirrels heard the hawk they went into a defensive mode. After the Hawk sound was played, for some of the squirrels, researchers played the sound of happy song birds just chattering while the other squirrels didn’t hear the happy birds. What the researchers found was that the squirrels who heard the happy birds went back to a relaxed state and back to normal activity much faster than the squirrels that didn’t. Researchers concluded that the squirrels were using the birds as a way to determine that the threat was gone.
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