The Buzz of Drinking on the Wing in Echolocating Bats

Danilo Russo, Leonardo Ancillotto, Luca Cistrone, Carmi Korine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Bats broadcast rapid sequences of echolocation calls, named 'drinking buzzes', when they approach water to drink on the wing. So far this phenomenon has received little attention. We recorded echolocation sequences of drinking bats for 12 species, for 11 of which we also recorded feeding buzzes. Based on the different sensorial tasks faced by feeding and drinking bats, we hypothesize that the drinking buzz structure will differ from that of feeding buzzes since unlike the latter drinking buzzes are not designed to detect and track mobile prey. We demonstrated that drinking buzzes are structurally different from feeding buzzes. We show that the buzz-II phase common in feeding buzzes is absent in drinking buzzes; that is, call frequency is not lowered to broaden sonar beam since the task of drinking does not imply tracking fast-moving targets. This finding indirectly confirms the role of buzz II in feeding buzzes. Pulse rate in drinking buzzes is also lower than in feeding buzzes, as predicted since the high pulse rate typical of feeding buzzes is important to update rapidly the relative location of moving targets. The most likely function of drinking buzzes is to guide a safe drinking manoeuvre, similar to 'landing buzzes' broadcast when bats land on the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-235
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Behaviour
  • Feeding buzz
  • Laryngeal echolocation
  • Prey detection
  • Target localization
  • Water detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'The Buzz of Drinking on the Wing in Echolocating Bats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this