new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white
Howling wolf. | by Peter Luckel
Back to photostream

Howling wolf.

The grey wolf or gray wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the timber wolf or simply wolf.

 

Wolf howls, which can last from 0.5-11 seconds, typically have a frequency of 150-780 Hz.Howling helps pack members keep in touch, allowing them to communicate effectively in thickly forested areas or over great distances. Howling also helps to call pack members to a specific location. Howling can also serve as a declaration of territory, as shown in a dominant wolf's tendency to respond to a human imitation of a "rival" wolf in an area the wolf considers its own. This behavior is 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. Wolves therefore 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, making it difficult to estimate the number of wolves involved. This confusion of numbers makes a listening rival pack wary of what action to take. For example, confrontation could be disastrous if the rival pack gravely underestimates the howling pack's numbers. A wolf's howl may be heard from up to ten miles (16 km) away, depending on weather conditions.

 

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 soon after emerging from their dens and can be provoked into howling sessions easily over the following two months. Such indiscriminate howling usually is intended for communication, and does not harm the wolf so early in its life.

 

Howling becomes less indiscriminate as wolves learn to distinguish howling pack members from rival wolves. The Arabian and Iranian wolf subspecies are unusual as they are not known to howl.

 

6,854 views
20 faves
2 comments
Taken on December 21, 2008