Birds can learn to understand the meanings of other species’ calls

13 September 2018

Birds can learn to understand the meanings of other species’ calls

Ready for some social learning

Jessica McLachlan

When a bird tweets an alarm call it’s not necessarily just its family members who get the message. Some birds respond to an alarm even if it comes from a member of a different bird species – and now we have a better idea of how they learn to do so.

Robert Magrath at the Australian National University in Canberra and his colleagues played a computer-generated “buzz” to eight in a nearby botanic gardens. None of the birds flew away and sought cover after hearing the sound.

Next, …