The structure and context of male and female song in White-throated Dippers

Magoolagan, Lucy and Mawby, Peter J and Whitehead, Flora A and Sharp, Stuart Peter (2019) The structure and context of male and female song in White-throated Dippers. Journal of Ornithology, 160 (1). 195–205. ISSN 0021-8375

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Female song in birds is more widespread than previously thought but remains poorly studied. Relatively few researchers have compared the structure and function of female song with that of conspecific males, especially in non-duetting species. Here we investigate male and female song in the White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus; hereafter ‘Dipper’), a highly territorial and largely monogamous passerine with a complex song in both sexes. The songs of individually marked birds were recorded over a 3-year period in order to compare the acoustic structure and production of song in males and females at different stages of the breeding cycle. No differences were found in the complexity, frequency or temporal characteristics of male and female songs. However, unpaired males recorded early in the breeding season sang more complex songs than males that were paired up and nest-building or whose breeding attempts were underway, suggesting that male song is used for mate attraction. By contrast, females sang most often during aggressive encounters with birds from outside their territory. Furthermore, males sang throughout the breeding season, when they are highly territorial, whereas females rarely sang after laying had begun. Together, these results support findings from other species that song structure varies with context and suggest that female song in Dippers may be used primarily in mate or territory defence.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Ornithology
Additional Information:
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org10.1007/s10336-018-1599-z
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? acoustic structurebirdsongcinclus cinclusvocal communicationterritorial defencemate defenceanimal science and zoology ??
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Deposited On:
13 Sep 2018 08:38
Last Modified:
22 Jan 2024 00:14