Smithsonian Magazine – New study suggests eastern grays exposed to predators’ calls resume normal activities more quickly after tuning in to birds’ casual chatter. “Squirrels readily resumed normal activities such as foraging after hearing nearby birds’ relaxed chatter.
When squirrels hear the shrieks of a red-tailed hawk, they shift into danger mode, alternately freezing in place, searching the skies or fleeing. But new research suggests the rodents aren’t attuned solely to avian alarms. As a trio of scientists from Ohio’s Oberlin College reports in the journal PLoS One, eastern grays rely on the cadences of everyday bird calls to sense whether threats have passed. As Katherine J. Wu of NOVA Next reports, the researchers found that squirrels wary of predators resume their normal activities more quickly after hearing nearby birds’ casual chatter. Distinct from “all clear” alerts, these exchanges essentially act as background noise, signaling a return to normalcy for animals in the vicinity…”