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A territorial intruder often poses more of a threat to the territory holder of the same sex as itself. As territorial aggression is associated with costs, aggression shown by birds towards territorial intruders of the opposite sex deserves investigation. This behaviour could arise due to the reproductive value of a mate or through mutualism between members of a pair. We investigated these hypotheses by presenting mated pairs of Tawny Owls Strix aluco with playback of male calls, female calls and a male and female duetting, and recording the number and intensity of responses by the male and female territory holders. Females responded significantly more often to female than to male calls. Males responded equally often to male and female playback. Males which had previously bred successfully with their mate were significantly more likely to respond to female playback in the spring, which suggested males were responding to female playback due to the reproductive value of their mate. There was no evidence of mutualism between members of a pair.


Journal article



Publication Date





91 - 99