The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How do song birds learn their songs?  (Read 4697 times)

blakestyger

  • Guest
How do song birds learn their songs?
« on: 07/11/2008 16:55:42 »
Song birds are recognisable by their distinctive songs that remain almost the same for countless generations, although there are recognised local dialects.

The question is: As young birds in second broods are growing up when the adult males have stopped singing (end of June onwards) how can they learn the species song as their fathers are silent?

I have heard snatches of blackbird sub-song from time to time but only rarely - also robins hold territories throughout the winter and continue to sing so that is not such a mystery. It's the warblers who migrate that puzzle me.


 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #1 on: 07/11/2008 17:12:53 »
Good question.

I wonder if there might be something in the birds ability to sing which dictates the song, or if there might be some mechanism by which it is passed on by instinct, or maybe the young do not sing (or at least not the right song) until they have heard their older mentors doing so.

Any bright ideas anyone?
 

Offline atrox

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 112
    • View Profile
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #2 on: 07/11/2008 17:56:32 »
Not really.
I allways wondered how efficient it would be, to raise orphaned young birds as I did during my work in a wild animal shelter.. Would these birds be able to reproduce? Because as far as I know female birds are pretty rigorous concerning the right songs... not singing the right song can be a reproductive barrier as shown in the race circle of the great tit in Eurasia.
But as you said, most male birds wonīt sing anyways while raising their offspring... some male birds wouldnīt even be near the nest when the chicks hatch.
I am really anxious if someone has an answer to this question!
 

Offline Make it Lady

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4050
  • Hands-on fun for everyone!
    • View Profile
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #3 on: 07/11/2008 19:21:48 »
Try this site: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2005/songbirds.html

It seems that they do learn from their parents and they have a similar learning process to human babies; babbling, copying intonation until finally the tune becomes perfect.
« Last Edit: 07/11/2008 19:23:19 by Make it Lady »
 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #4 on: 07/11/2008 19:51:37 »
Try this site: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2005/songbirds.html

It seems that they do learn from their parents and they have a similar learning process to human babies; babbling, copying intonation until finally the tune becomes perfect.

One question one this theory, why does the cuckoo not sing the song of the unfortunate foster father?
 

blakestyger

  • Guest
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #5 on: 07/11/2008 20:23:10 »
Young cuckoos probably don't have the vocal apparatus to produce the song of a typical foster parent (dunnock, reed warbler, robin) and they would probably hear the adult call when they get back to Africa. It isn't strictly speaking a song per se.

What is amazing about them is that they migrate after their parents - how do they know where to go? ???
 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #6 on: 07/11/2008 20:39:07 »
No, the cuckoo does not have a 'song' as you say, just a, well, cook koo, but the Robin and other foster parents do. So would you agree that there might be something in the birds vocal ability which prevents it from copying the wrong song?
 

Offline atrox

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 112
    • View Profile
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #7 on: 10/11/2008 18:48:05 »
It seems that they do learn from their parents and they have a similar learning process to human babies; babbling, copying intonation until finally the tune becomes perfect.

Yes, that was the Theorie for a long time...but as blakestyger said, they donīt even sing the "courtship song" during raising their offspring...so how do they learn it then? Maybe some chicks learn theirs songs this way, but it definatly wouldnīt work for a lot of birds
 

Offline Make it Lady

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4050
  • Hands-on fun for everyone!
    • View Profile
How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #8 on: 10/11/2008 22:11:11 »
I heard with Robins that the baby boys learns the basics from Dad and then learn to embellish it themselves. The more embellishments they can do, the sexier the ladies find them.

As for the other stuff then I'm clueless. I understood it was learnt. When do the chicks actually start using the more complex songs. Perhaps they learn it on the job, during the mating season. I see the problem now!
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

How do song birds learn their songs?
« Reply #8 on: 10/11/2008 22:11:11 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums