Nest defence

While adults may avoid predation in different ways, nesting chicks do not have this option and must rely on either their crypsis or parent defence. The Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) chooses one of the most demanding mobbing strategies to defend its nests. This active defence includes not only alarm-calls but also flights-over or direct swoops. This form of defence is very dangerous for the defending individual and puts high demands on his cognitive abilities because every mistake can lead to death. Our research is focused on the intensity of nest defence. We are dealing with the ability of the shrike to recognize predators and examine the key features of predators. At the same time, we examine their ability to assess the level of danger and respond appropriately. Our results so far suggest that the shrikes are able to not only recognize predators of various dangers for adults and clutches but also perceive the wider surroundings of nests and react with regard to e.g. the age of the nestlings.

This research has been conducted for a long time mainly in the military area Hradiště in Doupovské Mountains in West Bohemia.

People involved in this research: