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12 August 2019 Is “Pishing” Tantamount to Mobbing? Black-Capped Chickadees Respond Similarly to Human Pishing and Conspecific Mobbing Calls in Rural and Suburban Forests
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Abstract

Poecile atricapillus (Black-capped Chickadee) mobbing calls elicit mobbing events in which birds drive away a predator. Human birders simulate these calls by “pishing” (vocalizing mobbing calls) to coerce birds into view. We investigated whether pishing is as salient as natural mobbing calls, and whether birds respond differently in suburban forest fragments than in intact forests. Using experimental playbacks, we broadcast mobbing calls and pishing calls in suburban forest patches and intact forests and measured Chickadee response. We found that Chickadees had significantly stronger responses to mobbing calls than to alarm calls used as a positive control, but pishing call response was not significantly different than mobbing or control alarm call responses. We also saw no difference in number of Chickadees responding between suburban fragments and intact forests, but we did see a difference in areas with denser vegetation. These findings show that pishing may be less urgent than Chickadee mobbing calls but may still contribute to stress and energetic demands on birds.

Mark Kerstens, Aaron M. Grade, and Paige S. Warren "Is “Pishing” Tantamount to Mobbing? Black-Capped Chickadees Respond Similarly to Human Pishing and Conspecific Mobbing Calls in Rural and Suburban Forests," Northeastern Naturalist 26(3), 580-592, (12 August 2019). https://doi.org/10.1656/045.026.0311
Published: 12 August 2019
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