The skuas' communication system
Skuas have a complex and rich communication system, based on visual and acoustic displays that in the pair formation and bond maintenance, in the territory defence, and in the rearing of the chicks.
The skua long call display
Due to the skuas behavioour, it isa rather easy to record their vocalizations and displays. We are studying the recordings to understand their acoustic structure, and its relationships with the individual phenotype. Calls can not only help in individual recognition and maintenance of the pair bond, but they can also communicate information about the individual strenght and quality that can be used for mate competition and partner choice.
Recording a skua's vocalizations during an aerial display
There is a large individual variation in the structure of the calls. The following is just a small samples of the vocalizaztions emitted by skuas at Sea Lion Island.
Chicks use vocalizations to maintain contact with parents, to beg for food, and to express distress.