Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Canaries That Hear Poor Songs As Juveniles Nevertheless Sing Rather Normal Songs As Adults

Date:
June 3, 2009
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Many songbirds learn their songs early in life from a role model. In the absence of an appropriate tutor, they develop an improvised song that often lacks the species-typical song structure. However, male canaries even learn to sing normal songs when they were exposed as juveniles to tutors that lacked the features of normal canary song, as researchers have now found out.

Young male canaries sing normally, despite having heard poor songs as juveniles from role models.
Credit: Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

Many songbirds learn their songs early in life from a role model. In the absence of an appropriate tutor, they develop an improvised song that often lacks the species-typical song structure. However, male canaries even learn to sing normal songs when they were exposed as juveniles to tutors that lacked the features of normal canary song, as researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology have now found out.

The learning of birdsong resembles the learning of speech in humans. Crucial for the process are acoustic perception and the ability to produce sound. Social isolation leads to a disturbed vocal development both in humans and in birds. When children grow up without contact to other humans they either develop no or a rudimentary form of human language.

A similar scenario occurs in songbirds when juveniles are removed from their parents and are raised apart from the song of conspecifics. Although these birds develop song, it usually contains abnormalities. Whether the descendants of such birds accept these abnormal songs of their parents as a song model was investigated by researchers around Sandra Belzner and Stefan Leitner from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen on domesticated canaries.

The researchers established a group of "poor"-singing tutors by raising young canaries in isolation from adult males but in contact with peers and females.

When these poor singers later on sired offspring, the adult males were removed only after juveniles had reached the age of 60-70 days and thus had started song development already. Detailed song analysis showed that the juveniles did not simply copy the bad songs of their tutors, but rather developed a version that resembled more the song of normal canaries. "Apparently these birds possess an innate template for species-specific song that needs to be activated by hearing song", says Cornelia Voigt, co-author of the study.

When the researchers introduced the male offspring in their second year of life to normally singing canary males, they found that their songs did not contain any changes. Only the syllable repetition rate had slightly increased, which means, their songs became faster. "This result is particularly interesting, as it shows that the juveniles, by hearing their tutors, had completed their song development after the first year. The song quality of the tutors only played a minor role during this process", concludes Stefan Leitner. In contrast, birds that do not hear songs as juveniles delay the closure of their song development phase and still make corrections when hearing a suitable model later in life".

[1] Sonogram of a tutor canary (mp3 audio file)

[2] Sonogram of a juvenile canary (mp3 audio file)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Belzner, S., Voigt, C., Catchpole, C.K., Leitner, S. Song learning in domesticated canaries in a restricted acoustic environment. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Online publication 27.05.2009

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Canaries That Hear Poor Songs As Juveniles Nevertheless Sing Rather Normal Songs As Adults." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527121053.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2009, June 3). Canaries That Hear Poor Songs As Juveniles Nevertheless Sing Rather Normal Songs As Adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527121053.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Canaries That Hear Poor Songs As Juveniles Nevertheless Sing Rather Normal Songs As Adults." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527121053.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins