2022 Student Research Conference:
35th Annual Student Research Conference

Habituation of Songbirds to Vocal Mimicry of Cooper's Hawk calls by Blue Jays

Kathryn Ashton*, Ashley V. Staab, and Luke C. Stock
Dr. Joanna Hubbard, Faculty Mentor

Blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) are known to mimic a common songbird predator, the Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii); one explanation for this behavior is that it scares songbirds away from feeders thus reducing competition for food. Over time, the target (i.e., songbirds) may stop reacting in the absence of consequences associated with this stimulus. We studied whether songbirds habituate to either a Cooper’s hawk call or one mimicked by the blue jay using playback experiments. We recorded vigilance behaviors of songbird species commonly found at the feeder following the playback recording of the predator, a blue jay mimicking the predator, a species-specific blue jay call, and a common songbird (house sparrow, Passer domestica) call. We expect habituation to predators would be too risky, thus there would be equally heightened vigilance behaviors performed by the songbirds during and after the predator and predator mimic calls throughout the duration of our study.

Keywords: Ornithology, Animal Behavior, Mimicry


Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Session: 2-5
Location: SUB Activities Room
Time: 3:00

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