Daniel Blumstein in NPR: The Other Twitterverse: Squirrels Eavesdrop On Birds, Researchers Say
Squirrels eavesdrop on the casual chitchat of birds to figure out when it’s safe enough to be out in the open and foraging for food.
Researchers have found that a squirrel becomes incredibly vigilant when it hears the shriek of a red-tailed hawk, but it will relax and resume its food-seeking behavior more quickly if the predator’s call is immediately followed by the easygoing tweets of unconcerned birds.
Daniel Blumstein, a behavioral ecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, says this is a great study with convincing results.
“Most of us have been thinking about the risky side of things, not the safety side of things,” Blumstein says. “Yet both sorts of public information are out there for the taking if you know what to clue in on.”