Animals frequently use signals that travel further than the spacing between individuals. For every intended recipient of a given signal there are likely to be many other individuals that receive information. Eavesdropping on signalling interactions between other individuals provides a relatively cost–free method of assessing future opponents or mates. Male great tits (Parus major) extract relative information from such interactions between individuals unknown to them. Here, we show that male great tits can take information gathering a stage further and obtain more information about a previously unencountered intruder, by the hitherto unknown capability of combining information gathered by eavesdropping with that derived from their own direct interaction with an individual. Prior experience with an intruder (A) was achieved by subjecting a focal male to different levels of intrusion simulated using interactive playback. This intruder (A) then took part in a simulated interaction with an unknown male (B) outside the territorial boundary of the focal males. In response to subsequent intrusion by the second male (B), focal males showed low song output in response to males that had lost to a male that the subject was able to beat. Males of known high quality, or those about which information was ambiguous, elicited a high level of song output by focal males. We discuss the implications of this finding for the evolution of communication and social behaviour.