Is the air clear? Why squirrels eavesdrop on birds

When birds chirp, not only do we humans listen, but also squirrels. For the rodents, the sounds can be relaxing in the truest sense of the word.

Squirrels listen very carefully when birds sing - Image: Shutterstock / Sterling E Thompson

Squirrels listen very carefully when birds sing – Image: Shutterstock / Sterling E Thompson

Birds emit alarm calls to warn their fellow birds. But they are not only helpful for other birds, squirrels also benefit from the chirping. They know exactly when a predator is present.

But that’s not all: squirrels also react when birds make careless noises. A study by biologists from Oberlin Colleges in the US state of Ohio has come to this conclusion.

The scientists explained: “We knew that squirrels overheard the alarm calls of some bird species, but we were pleased to find that they also overheard non-alarming sounds, indicating that the birds felt relatively safe. Perhaps, in certain circumstances, safety cues can be as important as hazard warnings.”

This squirrel is happy about the recovered nut - Shutterstock / Jarry
  • Animal

  • Did you know

14.11.2019 – 10:30 a.m

Myth: Do squirrels forget their nut hiding spots?

For a long time it was said that squirrels were forgetful and could hide their nuts…


Watch now

And that’s exactly what an experiment showed in which 54 wild gray squirrels in Ohio were observed more intensively. The researchers first played calls of the red-tailed hawk. This is not only a natural enemy of smaller birds, but also of squirrels. The calls put the rodents on alert.

If the scientists then played harmless chirping, the squirrels relaxed again, and faster than without careless singing. For the researchers, this is proof that the squirrels not only listen to the warning calls, but also to other bird sounds.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button