Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bird song-sharing like verbal sparring

Date:
August 10, 2011
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
While singing the same songs as your neighbors may sound harmonious, new research suggests that song-sharing amongst song sparrow populations is actually an aggressive behavior, akin to flinging insults back and forth.

A song sparrow at Queen's University Biological Station.
Credit: Scott MacDougall-Shackleton

While singing the same songs as your neighbours may sound harmonious, research conducted at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS) suggests that song-sharing amongst song sparrow populations is actually an aggressive behavior, akin to flinging insults back and forth.

"It's been hypothesized that repertoire size and song complexity is about the singer's ability to advertise their quality as a mate," says lead author Janet Lapierre, a visiting biologist from the University of Western Ontario (UWO). "Song-sharing, where birds sing a smaller number of their species' greatest hits, is a more aggressive and attention-seeking behaviour. It's also a behaviour most often displayed by belligerent older males."

Ms Lapierre and fellow QUBS researchers Daniel Mennill (University of Windsor) and Beth MacDougall-Shackleton (UWO) used a 16-channel acoustic location system to investigate whether male song sparrows preferentially choose to sing highly shared song types or whether they use all song types interchangeably. They found no general tendency amongst the sparrows to either preference.

Instead, they found that the performance of highly shared songs is determined more by individual differences like age and the kind of neighbourhood the sparrows live in. 'Tougher' neighbourhoods had a higher percentage of sparrows who engaged in more aggressive song-sharing bouts, whereas 'mild-mannered' neighbourhoods tended to support more conflict-averse sparrows that avoid using shared song types.

Older male sparrows were the most likely to engage in more aggressive or attention-seeking song-sharing bouts, suggesting that older males may be more willing or able to risk conflict and may also have more experience in which songs are effective signals in their local area.

"The novelty of this study was that we looked at how birds use songs rather than just examining the content of their repertoires," says Dr. MacDougall-Shackleton, a biology professor from the University of Western Ontario and a regular QUBS researcher. "We really could not have done this research without the longstanding study population of song sparrows at the Queen's University Biological Station."

These findings were recently published in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Janet M. Lapierre, Daniel J. Mennill, Elizabeth A. MacDougall-Shackleton. Spatial and age-related variation in use of locally common song elements in dawn singing of song sparrows Melospiza melodia: old males sing the hits. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-011-1223-1

Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Bird song-sharing like verbal sparring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110810133019.htm>.
Queen's University. (2011, August 10). Bird song-sharing like verbal sparring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110810133019.htm
Queen's University. "Bird song-sharing like verbal sparring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110810133019.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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