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The Howl

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The Howl

Post by Spirit on Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:30 pm

Communication through Sound - the wolf howl
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Wolves howl for several reasons. Howling helps pack members keep in touch, allowing them to effectively communicate in thickly forested areas or over great distances. Furthermore, howling helps to summon pack members to a specific location. Howling can also serve as a declaration of territory, as portrayed by a dominant wolf's tendency to respond to a human imitation of a "rival" individual in an area that the wolf considers its own. This behavior is also stimulated when a pack has something to protect, such as a fresh kill. As a rule of thumb, large packs will more readily draw attention to themselves than will smaller packs. Adjacent packs may respond to each others' howls, which can mean trouble for the smaller of the two. Thus, wolves tend to howl with great care.


Wolves will also howl for communal reasons. Some scientists speculate that such group sessions strengthen the wolves' social bonds and camaraderie -- similar to community singing among humans. During such choral sessions, wolves will howl at different tones and varying pitches, which tends to prevent a listener from accurately estimating the number of wolves involved. This concealment of numbers makes a listening rival pack wary of what action to take. For example, confrontation could mean bad news if the rival pack gravely underestimates the howling pack's numbers.


Observations of wolf packs suggest that howling occurs most often during the twilight hours, preceding the adults' departure to the hunt and following their return. Studies also show that wolves howl more frequently during the breeding season and subsequent rearing process. The pups themselves begin howling towards the end of July, and can be provoked into howling sessions relatively easily over the following two months. Such indiscriminate howling usually has a communicative intent, and has no adverse consequences so early in a wolf's life. Howling becomes less indiscriminate as wolves learn to distinguish howling pack members from rival wolves.

Source: http://www.wolfcountry.net/information/WolfPack.html


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