Skip To Main Content

Common loons can differentiate between yodels of territorial neighbors from non-neighbors

Mager, J., Walcott, C., and W. Piper
Ohio Northern University
Although previous studies have identified elements of the yodel calls of male Common Loon’s (Gavia immer) that might be important for neighbor/non-neighbor discrimination, no one to date as determined whether loons can distinguish between the yodels of neighbors and non-neighbors. Our objectives were to determine if Common Loons respond differently to playback recordings of yodels of neighbor and non-neighbors and, if so, if elements of the introductory phrase or the repeat phrases are important in such differentiation. We studied loons occupying single-lake territories in Oneida County, Wisconsin, in 2001 (N = 20 pairs) and 2007 (N = 16 pairs). Playback experiments revealed no significant difference in number of different types of vocalizations (yodels, tremolos, and wails) loons gave in response to neighbor and non-neighbor yodels. However, loons gave significantly more tremolos in response to yodels lower in peak frequency than those of resident male (P = 0.01), indicating they were more threatened by such calls. In addition, loons gave significantly more tremolos (P
Journal of Field Ornithology 81(4): 392-401
Biology and Allied Health