Cliff Swallow Colonies as Information Centers

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  03 Oct 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4772, pp. 83-85
DOI: 10.1126/science.234.4772.83


Colonies of cliff swallows (Aves: Hirundo pyrrhonota) appear to be information centers in which colony residents acquire information on the location of food sources. Individuals that have been unsuccessful on a foraging trip return to the colony, locate a successful forager, and follow that individual to a food source. Individuals often follow, and are followed by, their neighbors within the colony, possibly because neighbors can observe foraging success through food brought back to nestlings. All individuals are equally likely to follow others or be followed, and thus all individuals benefit from opportunities to receive information.