Natures wonders: rival bird songs (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, October 20, 2017, 15:15 (777 days ago) @ David Turell

Song birds studied in New Zealand sing back at rivals. Whatever you can sing I can sing better:

"Not in my backyard. Territorial songbirds in New Zealand reacted more aggressively towards males encroaching on their territory if those rivals sang more complicated songs. The tui birds perceived these snappy singers as greater territorial threats than their simpler singing counterparts.

"Birdsong has two main functions: defending a territory and attracting a mate, says Samuel Hill at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand. For tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), territory defence is a key concern. “There are flowering and fruiting trees year round in New Zealand, so the tui always have resources to defend,” says Hill. This explains why “they natter all year round”.


"To test males’ reactions, Hill and his colleagues studied 12 tui territories in Tawharanui Regional Park, north of Auckland. Using a speaker, they played simple and complex tui songs, and a control song from another species, for three minutes on the periphery of each territory. The complex songs were nearly twice the length of the simple songs, with more than twice as many total syllables and types of syllables.

"After complex songs, male tui approached the speaker more rapidly. They also got closer: on average 0.3 metres away, compared with nearly 6.3m for simple songs. In addition, males responded to complex songs with more complex songs of their own: their responses used a wider range of “syllables” and went on for longer.

"Songirds are known to be sensitive to what others are singing, but Hill’s study may be the first to show a direct link between song complexity and aggressive responses in territorial males, says Kazuhara Sasahara at Nagoya University in Japan."

Comment: Too much testosterone at work? Seems like logical rivalries.

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