Influence of age, breeding state and approach direction on sensitivity to human gaze: a field study on Azure-winged magpies

Anim Cogn. 2023 May 16. doi: 10.1007/s10071-023-01786-x. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTIn predator-prey interactions, various factors affect the prey's perception of risk and decision to flee. Gaze sensitivity, the ability to react to the presence, direction, or movement of the head and eyes, has been reported in many birds. However, few studies have focussed on variation in sensitivity to human gaze in relation to other risks and potential breeding costs. Here, we studied the influence of human gaze on the escape behaviour of Azure-winged magpies (Cyanopica cyanus) and investigated the effects of breeding state (breeding season and nonbreeding season) and approach direction on gaze sensitivity. In Experiment 1, we tested whether magpies showed different sensitivities to human gaze according to age class and breeding state when approached directly. The results showed that the breeding state could affect the flight initiation distance (FID), with adults in the breeding season having a shorter FID compared to those in the nonbreeding season. Meanwhile, only adults were found to be averse to direct human gaze and juveniles showed no sensitivity. In Experiment 2, we conducted three different gaze treatments on adult magpies in the breeding season under three bypass distances (0 m, 2.5 m, 5 m). The results showed that approach direction had no effect on FID, while the sensitivity to human gaze differed under three bypass distances. Adults could clearly recognise human head and eye...
Source: Animal Cognition - Category: Zoology Authors: Source Type: research
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