The Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea is a highly social flocking bird which forms cohesive groups outside the breeding season. Being small birds (12-15g), they need to forage almost continuously during a few hours of daylight in winter to meet their energy demands. Although predation risk is reduced as a result of improved surveillance of many eyes, increased flock size may also increase the agonistic interactions among individuals within the flock and as a consequence lower the probability of detection of a predator’s approach. To examine whether Common Redpolls, living in relatively large winter flocks, are more exposed to avian predators than small passerines living in groups of only a few individuals, I recorded the responses of Common Redpolls, Willow Tits Poecile montanus and Great Tits Parus major to a life-like stuffed specimen of two different predators, the Siberian Jay Perisoreus infaustus (body length 30 cm) and the Hooded Crow Corvus cornix (50 cm). After the presentation of a predator model, Redpolls returned to the seed sites on the average earlier than the tits, and significantly so versus both tit species after exposure to the Siberian Jay, and for Great Tits after exposure to the Hooded Crow. Whereas Willow and Great Tits seemed to pick up sunflower seeds in the snow without much competition, Common Redpolls displayed a more conspicuous, aggressive, intraspecific behaviour. Thus, the individual vigilance of Common Redpolls was most likely reduced and exposure time to predation increased. The seed-eating Common Redpolls may be more food-stressed than the year-round resident Willow Tits that have stored food within their territories. If so, Common Redpolls may be forced to take greater predation risks because of a higher hunger level. If the differences in return times after exposure to a predator model reflected an adaptation to perceived predation risk, the Common Redpolls apparently evaluated the Siberian Jay as less dangerous than did the tits.
Bernhoft-Osa, A. 1978. Nattlig aktivitet hos gråsisik, Acanthis flammea. Vår Fuglefauna 1: 93–95. (In Norwegian; German summary.)
Brooks, W.S. 1968. Comparative adaptations of the Alaskan Redpolls to the arctic environment. Wilson Bulletin 80: 253–280.
Cramp, S. & Perrins, C.M. (eds.). 1994. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Vol. 8. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
De Laet, J.F. 1985. Dominance and anti-predator behaviour of Great Tits Parus major: a field study. Ibis 127: 372–377.
Hogstad, O. 1986. On the winter food of the Hawk Owl Surnia ulula. Fauna Norv. Ser. C, Cinclus 9: 107–110.
Hogstad, O. 1987. Social rank in winter flocks of Willow Tits Parus montanus. Ibis 129: 1–9.
Hogstad, O. 1988. Advantages of social foraging of Willow Tit Parus montanus. Ibis 130: 275–283.
Hogstad, O. 1996. Population fluctuation of the Redpoll Carduelis flammea during 31 years in a subalpine Birch forest in Central Norway. Vår Fuglefauna 19: 149–155. (In Norwegian; English summary.)
Hogstad, O. 2016. Hunting strategies by Siberian Jays Perisoreus infaustus on wintering small rodents. Ornis Norvegica 39: 25–28.
Mikkola, H. 1983. Owls in Europe. Poyser, Calton.
Pohl, H. 1989. Survival strategies of high-latitude resident Redpolls. Pp. 713–718 in: Mercer, J.B. (ed.). Thermal Physiology. New York.
Pulliam, H.R. 1973. On the advantages of flocking. Journal of Theoretical Biology 38: 419–422.
Rands, S.A. 2017. Leaving safety to visit a feeding site: is it optimal to hesitate while exposed? Royal Society Open Science 4:12 (doi: 10.1098/rsos.160910).
Silverin, B., Viebke, P. & Westin, J. 1984. Plasma levels of luteinizing hormone and steroid hormones in free-living groups of Willow Tits (Parus montanus). Hormones and Behaviour 18: 367–379.
Svensson, L. 1992. Identification Guide to European Passerines. Privately published, Stockholm.
Articles published prior to September 2020 are subject to the following terms: https://boap.uib.no/index.php/ornis/copyright
Articles submitted from September 2020 are subject to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 4.0 that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.