[Text that came with eMail:]
Seen in “The Sun-Herald” Newspaper on March 26, 2006
Macquarie University academic Chris Evans has been studying the way chickens communicate with each other and discovered they have a surprisingly complex range of word-like noises.
While science had traditionally thought animals capable only of expressing emotions with their voices, his work suggests chickens can identify different predators, alert others to food and even lie.
Experiments, showing chickens simulated predators and recording their noises, has indicated more complex signalling, with up to 20 different vocal signals in use.
Specific noises can be used to indicate the presence of food and are used by males to attract females.
The most recent studies have shown male fowls are capable of lying to attract females.
But females learn from the experience and can tell when males are lying.
“The males do signal dishonesty about food,” Evans said.
“About 20% of food calls are unreliable – they are lies. However, the females are extraordinarily good at detecting and discriminating against deceptive males.”