Birds can practically smell out predators

April 28th, 2008 - 2:02 pm ICT by admin  

London, April 28 (IANS) Birds can detect and avoid predators by smell, an ability earlier thought to be associated with other animal species, according to latest research. Birds are not only capable of identifying enemies through chemical signals, but also alter their behaviour depending on perceived risk levels, a recent study found.

The use of smell to detect chemical signals can be useful for birds say in feeding and orientation. However, it can boost their chances of survival if they can know whether the smell detected is associated with a predator, reports Sciencedaily.

Luisa Amo de Paz, the study’s co-author, explained that “birds can detect the presence of a predator” thanks to their sense of smell. Paz of Spanish National Research Council’s (CSIC) is working for the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW).

The sharpness of the sense of smell among certain birds, especially those that raise their young in holes in trees, such as some of the tit species, is essential for determining whether their major predators, weasels or martens, have got into their nests or are approaching, particularly because of the limited visibility inside their nests.

The research, published in the latest issue of Functional Ecology, provides the first ever evidence to show that birds are able to distinguish their predators using chemical signals.

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