“Think of the amazing repartee
If I could walk with the animals, talk with the animals,
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,
And they could talk to me!”
(From the film version of Doctor Dolittle)

If you’ve ever wanted to understand why warning calls by one bird species seem to spread rapidly, like an avian version of the Wave, to birds of other species, Professor Erick Greene from the University of Montana is your man.

As reported by the New York Times, the good professor has made a career out of studying interactions between predators and prey, and has lately homed in on birds’ warning signals, sharing a National Science Foundation grant with scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Other researchers are also looking into interspecies communication systems, and trying to determine if road and traffic noise interferes with birds’ “watch out!” calls.

And if all of that isn’t enough for you, the article also features robot raptors. And recordings of birds’ frantic calls in response to such. To paraphrase a very cool Facebook page, I @#$*-ing love science.


Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.