The World of Flying Baby Animals

The Communication of Baby Barn Owls

Posted on June 25, 2016 in Main

A young barn owl is known for calling out to negotiate for its food rather than boldly contending for it.  In Switzerland, a group of researchers have discovered that each owlet has their very own individual sounding call.  The researchers believe that this is a way for the owlets to confirm their identity within the nest and to connect to each bird’s needs.

Barn owls are found on every continent other than Antarctica and are considered to be one of the most prevalent kinds of birds.  Their nest will typically contain a clutch of around four to six eggs, but, on some occasions, have been known to have as many as twelve.

p1306563122-3Past research of the nestlings, also know as owlets, have highlighted just how they bargain for the food within the nest rather than fighting.  The owlets will share their hunger with their siblings through calling out while their parents are out looking for food for them.  Doing so will keep their siblings from competing for the food once the parents return with it.  The vocalizations will rise in intensity little by little, but with no physical aggression, if their is a disagreement, until other owlets that are not as hungry withdraw from the match.

Scientists began examining wild owls that resided in Switzerland in nest boxes to learn more about this interaction between owlets.  They recorded the interactions of the owlets at night while the parents were out of the nest and determined that a single owlet makes up to five thousand calls in one night.  Since the calls take so much energy from the owlets, the probability that incorrect signals are made by the chick is greatly reduced.

Some studies have further shown that the owlets will not interrupt the calls of the other owlets.  Through paying attention to the recorded calls of the owlets, some have been able to discriminate between individual owlet’s calls, thus suggesting that their individual voices help them to be recognized by their nest mates.  Researchers have also noted that their voices and calls were different based on their sex, their age, their family, and just how hungry they are.



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