Mimetic accuracy in Steller's jays
Graduate research by Trinity Tippin
Are Steller's jays accurate mimics?

Steller's jays are known to imitate hawks, but very little is known about the function of this behavior. By using a variety of methods to assess the quality of imitations (from varying perspectives!), I hope to shed some light on why this behavior occurs and how accuracy may vary across individuals.

See for yourself -- can you tell which of these calls are given by actual red-shouldered hawks and which are Steller's jays performing imitations of hawks? Listen to the recordings, take the short survey below, and submit your answers.

Call #1

Call #2

Call #3

Research Objectives: Fall 2015 - Fall 2017

  • Quantify mimetic accuracy among Steller's jays related to individual characteristics
  1. Spectrographic analysis
    • Compare structural differences between hawk calls and jay imitations
  2. Bioassays
    • Efficacy/effects of mimicry towards model species (hawks)
    • Efficacy/effects of mimicry towards conspecifics (other jays)
    • Efficacy/effects of mimicry towards heterospecific mixed-species flocks (juncos, etc.)
    • Determine whether people can differentiate between imitated and actual hawk calls
Contact Information

Trinity Tippin

WLDF 246 - Humboldt State University

Email: tctippin@humboldt.edu

Graduate Advisor: Dr. Jeff Black