Variation in the Songs of Female Black-Headed Grosbeaks

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1985
Authors:Ritchison, G
Journal:The Wilson Bulletin
Date Published:1985
ISBN Number:00435643
Keywords:Cardinalidae, Eophona, Eophona migratoria, Fringillidae, Pheucticus, Pheucticus melanocephalus
Abstract:Although numerous investigators have examined variation in the songs of male passerines, there are few descriptions of such variation in the songs of females. In the present study I examined intra- and interindividual variation in the songs of female Black-headed Grosbeaks (Pheucticus melanocephalus). The songs of individual females consisted of a series of syllables of varied frequency lying between 1.5 and 5.0 kHz. The mean number of syllables per song was 4.5 and the mean song duration was 1.47 sec. The number of syllables in the repertoires of female grosbeaks ranged from 5-28. The songs of female grosbeaks differed from the songs of males in that females appeared unable to reproduce consistently specific syllable types as accurately as males and the songs of females were less complex than the songs of males. Such differences may be due to differences in the levels of testosterone found in males and females. Previous investigation suggests that this hormone affects the development and maintenance of areas in the brain that control singing behavior. Sharing of syllables among females was uncommon with 78.6% of all syllables limited to the repertoire of one female. Such distinctiveness generally indicates that individual recognition may be important. Young grosbeaks appear to recognize parental songs and use this ability to maintain contact with their parents after fledging.
Short Title:The Wilson Bulletin
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