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Title: Alarm Calls of the Australian Magpie ('Gymnorhina tibicen'): Predators Elicit Complex Vocal Responses and Mobbing Behaviour
Contributor(s): Kaplan, Gisela  (author); Johnson, Gayle (author); Koboroff, Adam (author); Rogers, Lesley  (author)
Publication Date: 2009
DOI: 10.2174/1874453200902010007
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Abstract: Mobbing calls are produced by many avian species as part of a defence strategy against predators. However, as most studies have described small prey species, little is known of mobbing by species large enough to inflict harm of the predator when working cooperatively. We investigated the mobbing calls of the Australian magpie ('Gymnorhina tibicen tibicen'), a large, territorial songbird known to be exceptionally vigilant and to attack predators. We were particularly interested in this species because it has a very large vocal repertoire. Magpie groups (N=45) in semi-rural end rural localities were presented with taxidermic specimens of three predators, two species of eagle end a monitor lizard, the latter known to be a risk to their eggs and nestlings. We identified five distinct types of alarm calls, one of which (a complex, tonal call of more than two syllables) was elicited almost exclusively by the eagles in environments where they are known to be a threat to magpies. This alarm call usually preceded intense swooping attacks of the eagle models and often continued during the attacks. A harsh and noisy call of one syllable was the most frequently produced call end appeared to indicate level of arousal. The lizard did not elicit the multi-syllable call or any swooping attacks but it did elicit the harsh call. Some other call types showed less stimulus specificity although a two-syllable call was elicited more commonly by the eagles than lizard. Hence, this species has an acoustically complex, multi-syllable alarm call to signal the presence of an aerial predator in contexts of genuine threat, and this call is markedly different from the harsh single-syllable call, which indicates arousal level end is used most frequently when mobbing a monitor lizard.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Open Ornithology Journal, v.2, p. 7-16
Publisher: Bentham Open
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 1874-4532
Field of Research (FOR): 060801 Animal Behaviour
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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