Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Communicating nightingales: Older males trill better

Date:
August 12, 2013
Source:
University of Basel
Summary:
Older male nightingales perform faster and more demanding trills than their younger rivals. With up to 100 trill elements a second, nightingales belong to the fastest singers.

Older male nightingales perform faster and more demanding trills than their younger rivals. These findings were published by researchers at the University of Basel and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in the online edition of Journal of Avian Biology. With up to 100 trill elements a second, nightingales belong to the fastest singers.

Nightingales are famous for their large song repertoire: Each male can perform around 200 different song types. Facing this great variety, how can a female listener assess correctly if the male counterpart is a suitable mating partner? It is unlikely that the size of the repertoire is used as a performance indicator, since it would take about one hour for a male nightingale to sing through its whole song list. Thus, it is more likely that the quality of certain elements or song types are attended to for quick assessment.

Around 20 percent of nightingale songs contain rapid broadband trills that are characterized by particularly large frequency bandwidths. Since the performance of these sounds is very demanding, the rate at which they can be repeated is limited: "Trying to sing rapidly increasing sounds in fast repetition is very hard for us humans as well," says PD Dr. Valentin Amrhein, Zoologist at the University of Basel and head of the research station Petite Camargue Alsacienne in which the data was collected. Singing rapid broadband trills comes at a certain price for the male nightingale. Thus, it is suggested that males in good physical condition trill better and that therefore, trilling is a good indicator for male "quality."

Indeed, the scientists found out that older male nightingales perform faster trills with a broader frequency range than younger males. Based on the trills, females could therefore assess the age of the male singer and mate preferably with older ones. This behavior makes sense for female birds because older males are often more successful in reproduction.

Compared to 46 bird species investigated in other studies, the nightingale holds an exceptional position: The males use trills with a frequency bandwidth and repetition rates twice as wide or fast than that measured in other birds. This makes the nightingale one of the most sophisticated singers.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Philipp Sprau, Tobias Roth, Valentin Amrhein, Marc Naguib. The predictive value of trill performance in a large repertoire songbird, the nightingaleLuscinia megarhynchos. Journal of Avian Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2013.00113.x

Cite This Page:

University of Basel. "Communicating nightingales: Older males trill better." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812125327.htm>.
University of Basel. (2013, August 12). Communicating nightingales: Older males trill better. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812125327.htm
University of Basel. "Communicating nightingales: Older males trill better." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812125327.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
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