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Anim Behav. 1998 Mar;55(3):511-8.

Red squirrels, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, produce predator-class specific alarm calls

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Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Montana


Red squirrels, can produce alarm calls when they detect a potential predator. Observations of natural interactions between red squirrels and large birds, and predator-presentation experiments in the field, showed that red squirrels produce acoustically different alarm calls in response to aerial danger (live birds and a model hawk flown towards them) versus danger approaching from the ground (dogs and humans). The alarm call produced in response to aerial danger is acoustically convergent on the 'seet' alarm call produced by many species of passerine birds in response to raptors. The squirrels' 'seet' alarm is a short, low-amplitude, high-frequency call. These characteristics make the call difficult to localize, and is in a frequency range that is poorly perceived by raptors. Red squirrels produce much louder, wide-bandwidth bark calls in response to terrestrial danger. This is the first demonstration of predator-class specific alarm calls of red squirrels. Copyright 1998 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Copyright 1998 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

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