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Bird alarm: Great tits use predator-specific calls

22 November 2013 Last updated at 09:27 GMT

Great tits use different alarm calls for different predators, according to scientists in Japan.

A researcher analysed the birds' calls and found that they made "jar" sounds for snakes and combinations of "chicka" sounds for crows and martens.

This, he claims, is the first demonstration that birds can put into their alarm calls information about the predator that is threatening them.

The findings are published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

In this short clip, you can hear the three calls: the "chicka" call for crow; a "chicka" call for marten, which incorporates a "trill" that the birds do not use for crows, and finally "jar" call for snake.

Since snakes are particularly dangerous predators for the birds, the researchers think great tits might have evolved this very distinct snake alarm call.

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