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Vocal mimicry in spotted bowerbirds is associated with an alarming context

Kelley, Laura A. and Healy, Susan D. 2012, Vocal mimicry in spotted bowerbirds is associated with an alarming context, Journal of avian biology, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 525-530.

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Title Vocal mimicry in spotted bowerbirds is associated with an alarming context
Author(s) Kelley, Laura A.
Healy, Susan D.
Journal name Journal of avian biology
Volume number 43
Issue number 6
Start page 525
End page 530
Total pages 6
Publisher Wiley - Blackwell Publishing
Place of publication Malden, Mass.
Publication date 2012-11
ISSN 0908-8857
1600-048X
Summary Although the presence of vocal mimicry in songbirds is well documented, the function of such impressive copying is poorly understood. One explanation for mimicry in species that predominantly mimic alarm calls and predator vocal isations is that these birds use mimicry to confuse or deter potential threats or intruders, so these vocalisations should therefore be produced when the mimic is alarmed and be uncommon in other contexts. Male bowerbirds construct bowers to display to females and anecdotal reports from the Ptilonorhynchus genus suggest that males mimic alarm sounds when disturbed at their bowers. We quantified and compared the rate of mimicry during disturbance to the bower by a human and in naturally occurring social contexts in a population of spotted bowerbirds Ptilonorhynchus maculatus. Male bowerbirds produced mimicry more than thirty times more frequently in response to bower disturbance than they did in any other context. Neither conspecifics nor heterospecifics were attracted to the bower area by mimicry. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that the production of mimicry is associated with a response to an alarming situation. Additionally, the predominance of alarm mimicry by spotted bowerbirds raises the possibility that the birds learn these sounds when they experience alarming situations and they reproduce them in subsequent alarming situations.
Language eng
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060801 Animal Behaviour
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30049682

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Created: Thu, 29 Nov 2012, 08:14:59 EST

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