Leave me alone, the sequel

How appropriate that I just posted about alarm calls!

I just had an exciting encounter on my own back deck.   The weather is so fantastic today that I was sitting outside doing some reading.  As I sat there, I could hear Carolina Chickadees and some Northern Cardinals giving call notes.  It was made easier by the fact that both species appeared in the tree right off my deck.  Other than those two, it was mostly quiet out, so I became fairly immersed in my book.  Well, immersed until  <cue dramatic music>

This clucking sound caught my ear.  It was short and it was repeated.  In fact, the thing that was making the sound kept going on and on and on and on and on and on…you get the picture.  That sort of sound- loud, emphatic and repeated at this time of year says to me, “alarm call” so I looked up.  There, on my neighbor’s roof, was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk.  It did a bit of preening, but mainly just sat.  The alarm call was directed to the hawk.

Lang Elliot, who writes a blog and who has also put together some fantastic CD’s of animal sounds (for identification, not so much for soothing nights at home), has a recording of this sound on his site.


The best part of the event is that eventually the neighbor’s came home and their presence spurred the hawk to move on.  The chipmunk, paranoid little mammal that it is, continued to chuck away for another 4 or 5 minutes.  I hadn’t thought about timing it until it had already been going on for some time.  Both Lang Elliot and another paper say that the chucks are more commonly given by the chipmunks in response to aerial predators.  Well, it was a textbook situation today.  Ah, learning!

Weary, D.M. and D.L. Kramer.  1995.  Response of eastern chipmunks to conspecific alarm calls.  Animal Behaviour 49:  81-93.



About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
This entry was posted in communication, foraging, mammals, predation, raptors. Bookmark the permalink.

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