How robins find worms

Robert Montgomerie, Patrick J. Weatherhead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An understanding of diet selection in animals requires knowledge of not only what animals eat in relation to what is available, but also how they perceive the foods available to them. Birds use auditory, visual, olfactory and possibly vibrotactile cues to find prey, but vision is the predominant mode of prey detection. In a series of controlled experiments in an aviary, four American robins, Turdus migratorius, found buried mealworms in the absence of visual, olfactory and vibrotactile cues, suggesting that they could use auditory cues to locate the prey. They also had significantly reduced foraging success when auditory cues were obscured by white noise. These results conflict with the only other experimental study of foraging in American robins, which concluded that they foraged using visual clues alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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