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Weird NewsSquirrels eavesdrop on birds to stay out of danger, study suggests

05:55  05 september  2019
05:55  05 september  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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Super sleuth squirrels eavesdrop on the chatter of nearby birds to work out when it is safe to sneak past, according to a new study . The grey incarnation of the furry-tailed rodents are said to be able to distinguish between different calls made by potential predators, giving them an idea of when is best to

The study suggests grey squirrels eavesdrop on the chatter of nearby songbirds to figure out when danger has passed. But the latest study suggests animals may also keep an ear out for everyday chitchat among other species as a way to gauge whether there is trouble afoot.

Squirrels eavesdrop on birds to stay out of danger, study suggests © Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty Images A squirrel sits with a nut in a tree. Super sleuth squirrels eavesdrop on the chatter of nearby birds to work out when it is safe to sneak past, according to a new study.

The grey incarnation of the furry-tailed rodents are said to be able to distinguish between different calls made by potential predators, giving them an idea of when is best to emerge.

Scientists in the US observed the squirrels waiting patiently to come off high alert upon hearing the shriek of a predator call - and becoming more relaxed when they are confident the birds are engaging in more casual chatter.

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Grey squirrels eavesdrop on the chatter of nearby songbirds to figure out when danger has Published in the PLOS ONE journal, the study found that all squirrels showed an increase in Scientists say this suggests squirrels are able to tap into the casual chatter of many bird species as

Scientists show that squirrels have one ear tuned to the chatter of birds , and act on what they learn from He and his students set out to get some hard data on what squirrels listen to. This kind of eavesdropping is widespread in nature. “Even some lizards that don’t make their own vocal sounds

More than 50 wild eastern grey squirrels in public parks and residential areas were monitored in Ohio, where researchers simulated possible danger by playing a recording of a dangerous red-tailed hawk.

That clip was followed by songbird chatter or ambient sounds lacking bird calls, and the behaviour of each squirrel was monitored for a further three minutes.

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Squirrels eavesdrop on birds to stay out of danger, study suggests
Published in the Plos One journal, the study found every squirrel showed heightened predator vigilance after hearing the hawk - including behaviours such as freezing, looking up or fleeing.

Those who heard the bird chatter playback afterwards displayed less anxiety and returned to normal levels of watchfulness more quickly than squirrels who did not hear the more peaceful sounds.

According to the team behind the research, the results suggest squirrels are able to tap into the casual chatter of many bird species as an indicator of safety.

"We knew that squirrels eavesdropped on the alarm calls of some bird species, but we were excited to find that they also eavesdrop on non-alarm sounds that indicate the birds feel relatively safe," the authors said.

"Perhaps in some circumstances, cues of safety could be as important as cues of danger."

Scientists Implant False Memories in Birds to Teach Them Songs They've Never Heard .
Scientists have been able to teach birds simple songs they've never heard before by selectively activating specific neurons in their brains - effectively implanting false memories. Using the process of optogenetics, where light is used to control living tissue, the team was able to activate certain neuron circuits in the birds and get them to memorise new tunes.The amount of time the neurons were kept active corresponded to the length of the notes in the song the birds learned.

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